UK Police using AI to decide if criminals go to prison or go home

Posted: 11 May 2017 | By Darcie Thompson-Fields

Two British policemen stand with backs to camera. Selectively focussed. A crowd of people appears in the background, out of focus. Policemen are wearing tall traditional British helmets and fluorescent Jackets.

Durham (UK) police will soon be using AI technology to decide whether suspects should be released from prison, or remanded.

According to Sky News, a new piece of technology called the Harm Assessment Risk Tool (HART) will be launched within the next three months and be able to classify the suspects as either low, medium, or high risk of re-offending, contributing to whether they are released or remanded in custody.

According to Durham police, trials using Hart, which was developed by Dr Geoffrey Barnes in a partnership between Durham Constabulary and the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Evidence-Based Policing, found that only 2% of low-risk suspects turned out to be at high-risk of reoffending. However, it found that 12% of those forecast as high risk turned out to be low risk.

Professor Lawrence Sherman, the director of the centre, told Sky News that, with budgets for the Crown Prosecution Service and magistrates’ courts being “slashed”, it was an important economic requirement for police to identify when to keep suspects out of the criminal justice system.

“What the algorithm does is allow the police to make evidence-based decisions,” said Professor Sherman to Sky.


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