Force given another £5m for trial of crime-predicting software

17 July 2019, 09:25 | Updated: 17 July 2019, 11:58

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A computer programme trialled in Durham, which predicts whether someone will commit a crime, is being given more funding.

The Home Office is giving West Midlands Police another £5 million to analyse data on knife and gun offences, as well as modern slavery.
The National Data Analytics Solution is used to help predict whether someone will commit a crime or become a victim.
Superintendent Nick Dale from West Midlands Police, said: "This technology has the potential to help us understand modern slavery networks, the hidden crime within our communities, so much better, as well as the problems that lead to serious violence that blights communities and affects the lives of victims and perpetrators.
"We are still at an early stage in identifying how best machine learning technology can be used, but it is really important that our work is scrutinised independently from an ethical point of view, and that technology will never replace professional judgment or affect the police's accountability for our actions."
West Midlands Police received £4.5 million of Home Office funding for the scheme last year.
Durham was the first force in England and Wales to start using a computer programme to help decide how likely criminals were to re-offend, but several others are looking at similar technology.
It is reminiscent of the sci-fi blockbuster Minority Report, where detectives use a psychic to predict who will commit a crime and arrest them before it can happen.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: "I fully support the police embracing innovative new technology in the fight against crime and to protect the most vulnerable victims.
"Anything we can do to stay one step ahead of the criminals should be welcomed, providing it is rigorously tested and ethically sound.
"I look forward to seeing the results of this West Midlands trial."