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Dec 29, 2018,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

United Kingdom: Artificial intelligence to predict criminal behaviour, like in “Minority Report”

A predictive policing system could soon be used to identify potential crimes before they are even committed. This controversial tool, which would not have looked out of place in the film “Minority Report”, was designed by the British police force, who hope to roll it out in spring 2019. Using a huge criminal database and an AI tool, the “National Data Analytics Solution” is designed to avert criminal behaviour.


Using artificial intelligence (AI) to fight crime: that is the idea behind the “National Data Analytics Solution” (NDAS), which is currently being developed by the British police force. An algorithm has been designed, using a large criminal database, to evaluate the risk of a crime being committed in order to prevent it from happening. Only people who have already been flagged because of their “criminal tendencies” should be concerned, says the leader of the NDAS project, Iain Donnelly. He explains that the “potential criminals” would then be given support from local health or social workers, reports New Scientist.


A system based on 30 different indicators


The NDAS database includes a selection of 5 million UK inhabitants. This “sample” represents around a terabyte of information, supplied by the local and national police. Thirty indicators that were considered particularly useful in revealing the likelihood of committing a crime were extracted. They include the age of the individuals when they were first arrested and the number of crimes committed according to their “social group”.

These thirty indicators should help the artificial intelligence tool to “predict” the moment that the individuals are most likely to commit a crime. The system then gives them a “risk score”. The NDAS tool is set to be rolled out in March 2019 by West Midlands Police. They have already announced their collaboration with the Information Commissioners’ Office to ensure that all data privacy regulations are met. The system, which has already drawn attention from London’s Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police, would then be rolled out to the whole of the UK. 


Side-lining a previous predictive policing tool


The first predictive policing project was launched five years ago. However, it has only ever been used by Kent police force, and has now been dropped, reported the Financial Times on 26th November. The tool, which was developed by American company Predpol, included software that used the time, place and nature of crimes committed to direct the police to at-risk places, as opposed to people.

The NDAS system, meanwhile, has already incited strong reactions. Among the ethical problems listed, its critics highlight the fact that algorithms tend to reproduce any bias shown by the databases from which they draw their information.


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