Crime predictions software

“Crime prediction technology reproduces injustices and causes real harm”. Coalition for critical technology

About: Predictive policing is software used by law enforcement agencies to select neighbourhoods, streets or blocks where they should focus resources or to identify individuals for investigation. Law enforcement agents feed records and data into algorithms that eventually will predict in which area a crime is supposedly more likely to happen.

How does it work? Predictive policing analyses a massive amount of information to infer when and in which locations crime is likely to occur. Then, the algorithm will tell the police department to dispatch officers to a specific place on a specific time or day, looking for potential offenders.  This means that police are predisposed to be suspicious of everyone who happens to be in that area at that time. In summary, predictive policing software takes an average of where arrests and crimes have already happened, and tells police to go back there.

Why is this wrong? Predictive policing only accounts for crimes that are reported, and concentrates policing resources in those communities. This makes it more likely that police may uncover other ‘crimes’. This creates a feedback loop that makes predictive policing a self-fulfilling prophecy and eventually reinforce racial biases and criminalises specific groups. Most of the time these are extremely vulnerable groups. These practices tend often to materialize in Law Enforcement Agencies racial profile controls.

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VICE | Florida Tech Online | The Verge