techUK responds to Justice & Home Affairs Select Committee on emerging tech within policing
Rt Hon Kit Malthouse MP, Minister of State for Crime and Policing, Home Office and Ministry of Justice spoke on the role of emerging technologies and the application of the law at a recent meeting of the House of Lords Justice & Home Affairs Select Committee.
To watch in full and view the transcript, please click here.
techUK provides a response to the Select Committee discussion and overall programme for the opportunity of emerging technology within policing.
Emerging technology & building public trust
The Minister referenced the use and successes of ANPR, and police willingness and openness to explore the use of AI and machine learning. The use of data analytics for prevention was also mentioned and as it is evident, technology can play an important role in the detection and prevention of crime. There are exciting developments in the use of tech to increase police productivity and improve public safety, however, it is important to recognise that with technological developments, comes the balance against public trust. It is vital for policing to work with the tech industry as these new technologies are developed, trialed and tested and techUK is keen to support the programme to deliver this.
The Minister provided great emphasis on the strategy needing a clear and defined shape and ensuring governance and scrutiny frameworks are correct without stifling innovation. The Minister made clear that the UK wants to unlock innovation and not deliberately add barriers resulting in police forces having ‘to play catch up’. How the Home Office is working with the Ministry of Justice in the deployment of technologies was highlighted, and it was excellent to hear reference to the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) work being undertaken, of which techUK is supporting through the Police Digital Service (PDS). Issues arising include the intrusive line of enquiry in, for example, gathering digital evidence from the mobile phones of victims. techUK is working with the Home Office and PDS to ensure appropriate industry engagement is conducted.
Delivering diversity and inclusion in Policing
A concern flagged to the Minister surrounded algorithms and racial bias in the development of certain technologies. Here, we learnt of the challenges surrounding the use of facial recognition, the importance of safeguarding and ensuring the technology is introduced with the human at the centre.. For more information on techUK’s work across facial recognition, please click here.
There needs to be a greater emphasis on representation within policing. With the recruitment of 20,000 new police officers, there is a drive to recruit officers from more diverse backgrounds, however it continues to be flagged that there is still a long way to go with policing not reflecting the diverse communities it serves. Last year, techUK ran a workshop looking at delivering diversity in policing and would welcome the opportunity to support the programme to answer questions around technologies being used, as discussed, at border control and what safeguards are or could be developed in order to mitigate against racial discrimination.
The standard of transparency among police forces and their adoption of new technologies is quite unknown. The public doesn’t necessarily know which technology is being used and to what extent. The Minister highlighted that accountability sits with the Chief Constable with oversight from Police and Crime Commissioners with a discussion taking place on what a centralized approach, or national procurement framework, would look like and what that would mean for our 43 police forces, for example when procuring technology. Adding to this, a conversation took place on whether a new body is needed to advise local forces on emerging technology. It was highlighted there might be room for a technology ethics advisory group but there is concern about setting up a parallel ethics group on a national level, as Parliament already serves that purpose.
techUK aims to bridge the gap between industry and policing and continues to engage with forces to uncover the challenges around adoption of new technologies whilst also considering legal and ethical implications intheir use.
Early market engagement is key, and we encourage forces to use techUK as a platform to engage with the tech industry. This is the best and most efficient way to understand what solutions are available and currently in use by police forces, but also what emerging technologies are on the horizon or are being used across other sectors that could be applied to police. techUK recognises the existing work being done by forces and within other sectors with the adoption of AI and automation for example, and will continue to push for sharing best practices and early industry engagement.
If you are a member or a representative from a Police force, please do reach out to Raya Tsolova – raya.tsolova@techUK.org
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