Police use algorithms to predict crime

As the number of police officers in the UK declines perhaps they'll be replaced by algorithms that can predict where and what type of crimes are likely to occur before they do; a bit like the film Minority Report.

Police in New York and Los Angeles are experimenting with powerful computer systems that can crunch vast quantities of data on offences, offenders, locations and even weather patterns to deploy officers in likely crime hotspots before they become hot.

The police combine the software with other more traditional tools such as CCTV and community policing to build a comprehensive picture of every neighbourhood in their respective cities. In a country plagued with gun crime some cities also have gun fire detection technology - the equivalent of a CCTV system but monitoring sound rather than images - that automatically alert police HQ to the sound of gunfire.

The proof of the system is demonstrated in New York which had 2,260 homicides in 1951 [6 per day] but 290 last year. That's still a lot of murders but a decline of 90% on 1950 levels and the lowest in 66 years.

BCRP Comment

Police forces in the UK are behind the curve when it comes to exploiting technological advances but declining budgets will force a sea change in the not too distant future.