PHRP expert meeting on predictive policing

In May 2019, PHRP held a 2-day expert meeting on predictive policing. The meeting brought together representatives of civil society organisations, academia and police to discuss the use of algorithms to predict crime. The diverse backgrounds of the participants and variety of angles on the topic led to insightful discussions into the problems of predictive policing and the possible approaches to assess them not only in technical terms but also with regard to their impact on the human rights of individuals, groups and the community.

Key issues discussed included the quality and bias of the data used to train and feed the algorithms, as well as the design of the algorithm itself, including the type of data taken into account and the recognition of feedback loops. Another point of discussion was the accuracy of predictions and the difficulties in measuring the effectiveness of policing approaches based on such predictions. Attention was also given to the often-limited ability to comprehend how algorithms arrive at predictions, and the difficulties in challenging these conclusions and achieving meaningful accountability. An overarching question which should guide any assessment of predictive policing systems was if such systems are necessary at all and what purpose they can or should serve.

A report summarizing the conclusions of the meeting will be published shortly.