A senior police chief said that police should be using artificial intelligence (AI) to help cope with the huge volumes of evidence.
Sara Thornton, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said that suspects’ volume of data had massively increased the possible lines of enquiry that the police should pursue and investigate to understand a case. The scale of information is too much, and therefore, to avoid making mistakes, it would be useful to use AI.
In the past months, several rape prosecutions were dropped due to the police failing to hand over evidence that undermined the case. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced a review of all current rape and serious sexual assault cases. This may lead to more prosecutions being discontinued. The CPS is implementing several measures to improve the way the criminal justice system, especially regarding problems of disclosure with mobile phones and laptops.
“What we are really challenged by is the volume of data which all of us hold in 2018, and therefore the potential for many, many more reasonable lines of enquiry than was ever the case. I’m not just talking about twice as many … the numbers that we’re talking about are really significant.”
All suspects and complainants should be asked at the start of an investigation whether there may be relevant evidence on their phones or digital footprint, but with tight resources, technology may be the ultimate answer. Therein lies the challenge, however: how to use technology beyond search terms, whether by machine learning or artificial intelligence, to help investigations. If the challenge lies in technology, then it must also be part of the solution, Thornton said.
The criminal system reform also arose in the midst of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) briefing on knife crime. Duncan Ball, a deputy assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan police, said they would increase knife sweeps, targeted stop and search, and test purchases.