Predictive Policing

Discussion Prompt: When, if ever, is predictive policing effective, fair, and legitimate? What is the role of data reliability in this?

Police departments worldwide are increasingly exploring predictive policing tools. Whether this is because they are trying to harness new technology to provide a 21st century police service, trying to cut costs and do more with less, or perhaps merely jump on the shiny tech bandwagon — algorithmic analysis tools are proliferating. While they vary in method, many seek to anticipate future crimes (types, geographic areas, and time windows) and identify possible victims and offenders. Despite contested evidence for the effectiveness of the approach, more and more police departments around Europe are adopting predictive policing tools, often in the absence of clear regulation on the use of data analytics in our criminal justice systems. While proponents claim algorithmic tools eliminate human bias, voices flagging the self-fulfilling nature of using historical crime data, which can lead to over-policing and profiling of racial minorities, are growing louder. How these tools sit with the right to presumption of innocence and civil liberties is yet to be determined.