UK Using Computers to Predict Crime

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, WandsworthNewham 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.’