UK police machine learning trials go unregulated

Report says there is a lack of clear guidance on the use of algorithms

Police on patrol

The use of machine learning by UK police forces to support decision-making is in its infancy and there is a lack of research examining how the use of an algorithm influences officers' decision-making in practice.

That is according to the defence think tank, the Royal United Services Institute, which noted there is a limited evidence base on the efficacy and efficiency of different systems, their cost-effectiveness, their impact on individual rights and the extent to which they serve valid policing aims.

The report, titled "Machine Learning Algorithms and Police Decision-Making Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Challenges", said that there is a lack of clear guidance and codes of practice outlining appropriate constraints governing how police forces should trial predictive algorithmic tools.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"This should be addressed as a matter of urgency to enable police forces to trial new technologies in accordance with data protection legislation, respect for human rights and administrative law principles," the report's authors said.

It added that while machine learning algorithms are currently being used for limited policing purposes, there is potential for the technology to do much more, and the lack of a regulatory and governance framework for its use is concerning.

"A new regulatory framework is needed, one which establishes minimum standards around issues such as transparency and intelligibility, the potential effects of the incorporation of an algorithm into a decision-making process, and relevant ethical issues," the report said.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

It urged the creation of a formalised system of scrutiny and oversight, including an inspection role for Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, is necessary to ensure adherence to this new framework.

There are also issues over procurement of such systems. The report said that such procurements should "explicitly require that it be possible to retroactively deconstruct the algorithm in order to assess which factors influenced the model's predictions", along with a requirement for the supplier to be able to provide "an expert witness who can provide details concerning the algorithm's operation if needed, for instance in an evidential context".

Advertisement - Article continues below

The report also called for a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach, needed to address the complex issues raised by the use of machine learning algorithms for decision-making.

"At the national level, a working group consisting of members from the fields of policing, computer science, law and ethics should be tasked with sharing real-world' innovations and challenges, examining operational requirements for new algorithms within policing, with a view to setting out the relevant parameters and requirements, and considering the appropriate selection of training and test data," the report said.

It added that it is essential that the officers using machine learning technology are sufficiently trained to do so in a fair and responsible way and "are able to act upon algorithmic predictions in a way that maintains their discretion and professional judgement".

Featured Resources

Navigating the new normal: A fast guide to remote working

A smooth transition will support operations for years to come

Download now

Putting a spotlight on cyber security

An examination of the current cyber security landscape

Download now

The economics of infrastructure scalability

Find the most cost-effective and least risky way to scale

Download now

IT operations overload hinders digital transformation

Clearing the path towards a modernised system of agreement

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/technology/artificial-intelligence-ai/354766/mit-develops-ai-tech-to-edit-outdated-wikipedia
artificial intelligence (AI)

MIT develops AI tech to edit outdated Wikipedia articles

13 Feb 2020

Most Popular

Visit/laptops/29190/how-to-find-ram-speed-size-and-type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

24 Jun 2020
Visit/security/vulnerability/356295/microsoft-patches-high-risk-flaws-that-can-be-exploited-with-a
vulnerability

Microsoft releases urgent patch for high-risk Windows 10 flaws

1 Jul 2020
Visit/security/34616/the-top-password-cracking-techniques-used-by-hackers
Security

The top 12 password-cracking techniques used by hackers

12 Jun 2020