Category Archives: Police

UK Using Computers to Predict Crime

Cover of "Minority Report [Blu-ray]"

The London Metropolitan Police are investing in technology designed to forecast where crimes will be committed.

In an initiative that echoes the hit film in which a ‘precrime’ department detains murderers before they kill, the force is using computers to map out where future burglaries are likely to take place.

Computer algorithms combine crime statistics and criminal behaviour models to produce ‘predictive areas’ where burglars and muggers are likely to target. Officers are then deployed to those areas, which cover a radius of no more than 250 yards, to act as a deterrent or even catch the villain in the act.

Analysis suggests the computer algorithms are ‘seven times more accurate than chance’. A pilot scheme saw ‘significant reductions’ in burglaries in Hackney, Wandsworth, Newham and Lewisham.

Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe now wants to use the technology to tackle antisocial behaviour and vehicle crime and extend its use across the capital.

The system was developed in America from the same kind of calculations used to predict earthquakes. It analyses times, dates, and places of crimes and predicts how many are likely to be carried out if the trend continues.

‘It’s the classic Minority Report, trying to prevent crime before it happens.’

In Minority report Cruise plays a police captain who heads up a ‘pre-crime’ department which stops criminals based on the information provided by three psychics called ‘precogs.’


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Misapplied Technology and London Riots

POLICAM surveillance camera and enclosure.

Image via Wikipedia

The days of the friendly London Bobby strolling through a neighborhood, talking with passers-by and being offered the occasional tea are long gone.  London’s residents have become the most monitored in the free world, as nearly 500,000 video cameras (some of which cost up to $50k each) and microphones are set throughout the city recording the everyday actions of millions of people as they pass through old London town.  One of London’s own, George Orwell, had a vision of modern-day London which is coming true.

The original problem?  London’s unarmed police offers were being harassed and attacked and had little ability to defend themselves.

The solution? Get the Cops off the streets, and put them behind video screens where they could “more effectively” monitor crimes in all its forms throughout the city.

The result? Thousands of cameras are allowing the police to do post-crime investigation (“Dial 911 and Die”) quite effectively, however they just aren’t on-the-streets anymore and can’t help stop a brewing situation from overwhelming the city.

This appears to be just another mis-application of technology.  Although the cameras have allowed the London Police from having to be on the streets, the overwhelming results is that the Police are now very much out-of-touch with the “feel” of the street.  Something which isn’t possible with shiny, new CCTV technology.

Not to mention, the civil liberty implications…

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