Sunday Jan 29, 2023

Overhaul of UK police tech needed to prevent abuse – ComputerWeekly.com

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The use of artificial intelligence (AI) by UK police could undermine human rights and further exacerbate existing inequalities without sufficient safeguards, supervision and caution, a House of Lords inquiry has found.

Following a 10-month investigation into the use of advanced algorithmic technologies by UK police, including facial recognition and various crime “prediction” tools, the Lords Home Affairs and Justice Committee (HAJC) described the situation as “a new Wild West” characterised by a lack of strategy, accountability and transparency from the top down.

In a report published on 30 March 2022, the HAJC said: “The use of advanced technologies in the application of the law poses a real and current risk to human rights and to the rule of law. Unless this is acknowledged and addressed, the potential benefits of using advanced technologies may be outweighed by the harm that will occur and the distrust it will create.”

In the case of “predictive policing” technologies, the HAJC noted their tendency to produce a “vicious circle” and “entrench pre-existing patterns of discrimination” because they direct police patrols to low-income, already over-policed areas based on historic arrest data.

“Due to increased police presence, it is likely that a higher proportion of the crimes committed in those areas will be detected than in those areas which are not over-policed. The data will reflect this increased detection rate as an increased crime rate, which will be fed into the tool and embed itself into the next set of predictions,” it said.

On facial recognition, the other major algorithmic technology being deployed by police, the report noted it could have a chilling effect on protest, undermine privacy, and lead to discriminatory outcomes.

“The use of advanced technologies in the application of the law poses a real and current risk to human rights and to the rule of law. Unless this is acknowledged and addressed, the potential benefits of using advanced technologies may be outweighed by the harm that will occur and the distrust it will create”

HAJC report

“While we found much enthusiasm about the potential of advanced technologies in applying the law, we did not detect a corresponding commitment to any thorough evaluation of their efficacy,” said the HAJC report.

It added that, on top of there being “no minimum scientific or ethical standards that an AI tool must meet before it can be used in the criminal justice sphere”, the vast majority of public bodies involved in the development and deployment of these technologies lacked the expertise and resources to carry out proper evaluations of new equipment.

“As a result, we risk deploying technologies which could be unreliable, disproportionate, or simply unsuitable for the task in hand,” said the HAJC, adding the system needed “urgent streamlining and reforms to governance” because “as it stands, users are in effect making it up as they go along”.

The committee’s conclusion was in line with comments from Karen Yeung, an interdisciplinary professorial fellow in law, ethics and informatics at Birmingham Law School, who told the HAJC in October 2021 that policing authorities had started using new technologies “just because we can…without clear evidence” about their efficacy or impacts.

This includes the “very unrigorous” trials and use of facial recognition, as well as crime prediction tools such as the Met Police’s Gangs Matrix or Durham Constabulary’s Harm Assessment Risk Tool.

HAJC chair Baroness Hamwee, summarising the committee’…….

Source: https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252515236/Overhaul-of-UK-police-tech-needed-to-prevent-abuse

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