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Police adviser publishes principles for use of AI


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Image source: Kiertsirikul

The Office of the Police Chief Scientific Adviser (OPSCA) has published a set of principles on how AI should be used in policing.

It said the Covenant for Using AI in Policing was endorsed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) late last month and should be given due regard by all developers and users of the technology in the sector.

The principles place an emphasis on the use of AI being lawful, transparent, explainable, responsible, accountable and robust, and complying with established codes of practice, most notably the College of Policing’s Code of Ethics.

The document makes clear that chief constables and police and crime commissioners, supported by their ethics committees, are responsible for ensuring the principles are upheld, and that their forces’ use of AI should be subject to independent scrutiny.

OSPCA has a role in supporting research into the fairness of AI applications, providing up-to-date information on their development, sharing examples of good practice and bringing together government agencies, academia and industry on relevant matters.

Effectiveness and planning

The covenant says that most AI applications in use are focused on organisational effectiveness and workforce planning – such as live triage of 999 calls and the automation of data quality assurance tasks – rather than predictive analytics. But it acknowledges that the technology is also used to support decision making and in controversial processes such as facial recognition.

It adds that it is part of an evolving area of work but that it has been published to ensure the organisation is acting with transparency.

OPSCA provides scientific and technology advice to NPCC members and supports collaboration with central government and the wider science community.

In its introduction to the covenant it says: “The speed and accuracy that AI can bring to police processes make it an attractive way to deliver an effective and efficient service.

“However, the application of AI can be contentious. Transparency and fairness must be at the heart of what we implement, to ensure a proportionate and responsible use that builds public confidence.”

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