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Lords committee calls for evidence on new tech in law enforcement


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee has invited written contributions to its inquiry into new technologies in law enforcement.  

The committee said it wants to explore the use of advanced algorithmic tools in activities to discover, deter, rehabilitate or punish law breakers in England and Wales. 

It is placing a focus on the existing legal framework around the development and use of these tools, ethical issues raised by their use in law enforcement, and the lived experiences of end-users.  

Among the topics on which it is looking for evidence are:

  • What should new technologies used for law enforcement aim to achieve and in what instances is it acceptable for them to be used?  
  • Do advanced algorithms reliable outputs, and consistently so? How far do those who interact with these technologies (such as police officers, members of the judiciary, lawyers, and members of the public) understand how they work and how they should be used? 
  • What mechanisms should be introduced to monitor the deployment of new technologies?  Who should be accountable for their use and what accountability arrangements should be in place? 
  • How can transparency be ensured, including on how the technologies are being purchased, how their results are being interpreted and in what ways they are being used? 

Baroness Hamwee, chair of the recently created committee said: “The Justice and Home Affairs Committee has been appointed to consider justice and home affairs, including the domestic criminal justice system, and international cooperation in respect of criminal justice, civil justice, migration, and asylum. Our first major inquiry is on new technologies and the application of the law. 

“The use of advanced algorithms in law enforcement poses both opportunities and significant challenges, not least for trust in how it is used and in the rule of law. Our committee will be looking at the role of new technologies in the application of law enforcement and how these should be procured, used and monitored. 

“Around 90% of crimes now have a digital element, so the committee will examine how the use of new technologies can impact policing in particular; but attention will also be paid to their use in other areas of the justice system such as rehabilitation and deterrence.  

“In this fast developing and ever changing digital era, our criminal and justice systems must have modern and effective systems in place and concerns around emerging technologies must be adequately addressed. We encourage anyone with experience or expertise in this subject to share their views with the committee. These will be valuable to us."

The committee is taking written evidence up September 2021. The full call for evidence is available on its website.

Image from iStock, metamorworks



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