Predictive Policing

What is Predictive Policing?

Predictive Policing involves using algorithms to analyze massive amounts of information in order to predict and prevent potential future crimes. For this purpose, it uses methods of Advanced Hotspot Identification models, Risk Terrain analysis, Regression, Classification, and Clustering models. It was used prominently in the NYPD COMPSTAT model. Recently, DGP Sanjay Kundu along with the police team in Himachal Pradesh has successfully decreased crimes in the area using this method.


  • Prevention and reduction of crimes: It helps to identify the time period and area where crimes can happen. It can also identify hotspots of accidents. After this information is gathered, Police are deployed in such areas to prevent crimes and accidents and thus improve the law and order of the region. With a crime rate of  445.9 per lakh population in 2021, it can reduce this drastic number. 
  • Reduce the number of Accidents: It can identify accident blackspots which is a places on a road where accidents frequently occur.
  • Targeted and Scientific Approach: Since the number of Policemen is limited in an area, Police cannot be present at all times everywhere. With the shortage of Police and the poor Police to Population ratio, it becomes difficult to ensure the safety of all areas. It helps to narrow down the areas more susceptible to crimes and identify repeat offenders. 
  • Identify Habitual Offenders: This helps Police to move to Court for cancellation of bail of such offenders.
  • Better coordination and quick response: In the series the aftermath after a crime takes place,  police departments, firefighters, and other agencies may be involved. Predictive Policing can improve incident response times by ensuring better coordination between all these agencies. 
  • Protect victims of crime: It helps to Identify those groups or individuals who are likely to become victims of crime thus ensuring steps can be taken in advance to protect them.

 Issues with Predictive Policing

  • May lead to discrimination: Predictive programs may suffer from biases since they are trained by people and rely on existing police data. Hence, they may reinforce existing racial, ethnic, or gender biases and prejudices in the policing system.
  • Lack of transparency: how predictive algorithms reach their decisions is not very clear and there is a scope for error. This may lead to innocent people being wrongly targeted.
  • Potential of misuse: For example, there have been allegations of using security cameras with facial recognition to target dissenters in China.
  • Violation of Human Rights:  Predictive Policing violates the Privacy and autonomy of individuals. It uses social media accounts, CCTV footage, and other personal information of people to predict the likelihood that an individual will commit a crime. Such information can also be leaked which increases the likelihood of privacy invasion all the more

Way Forward 

  • Balancing safety and security with the Protection of Privacy and Human Rights: There is a need to ensure the rights of people are not violated and their dignity is preserved while using AI tools to nab criminals.
  • Thorough experimentation and regulation: Before using such tools, ensure sufficient trials are carried out in a proper manner. Regulations and accountability mechanisms that create a trustful environment for experimentation need to be introduced.
  • Establish institutional review boards These should review if there has been using of any personal data and to what extent. The board should comprise experts from multiple fields like ethics, privacy and technology, policymakers, civil servants, and community representatives. Ethical considerations of fairness, equity, and inclusion should be kept in mind.
  • Promote strong collaboration and trust between law enforcement systems and citizens: Trust is a key requirement for the application of AI for security and policing. To ensure the proper use of predictive policing methods, the community needs to be proactively involved.


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Plutus IAS current affairs eng med 15th Sep 2022

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