London software testing news UK

London tests database that predicts imminent crime

Posted in General,Load testing,Software testing by testing in London on December 3, 2006

From ars technica

Five London boroughs have begun to use a controversial database that profiles high-risk “future” offenders as part of a pilot program for a larger database in the UK. The goal will be for the police force to eventually have a list of the 100 most dangerous offenders based on detailed psychological profiling, which they believe would eventually help to reduce crime by enabling them to keep a closer eye on high-risk offenders, and possibly even stop them before committing crimes.

Also under question are the logistics for using such a database. What threshold of activity would have to be required before deciding to arrest someone for a potential crime? There is no way to ethically test such a list—are the police supposed to identify murders in advance, but allow people to be killed so they can get statistics for a test run? Without testing, though, there would be no other way to know whether the list could be even remotely accurate. Is an untested system that could be totally inaccurate for predicting future behavior worth spending money on?

If heavy surveillance isn’t doing much to prevent crime in the UK now, how will adding even more surveillance prevent uncommon murders such as those by serial killers? The database for predicting future crime incidents comes off as a flashy and intrusive solution that might only shave a small number off of the total homicides in a year—assuming that it even works.

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