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August 25, 2017updated 30 Aug 2017 3:22pm

The Digital Police Force: Fighting crime with AI, automation & analytics

The police are looking to digitally transform in order to cut crime and boost productivity.

By April Slattery

The police have been under considerable pressure of late, responding bravely to terrorist attacks and dealing with the rise of crime nationwide. The methods used by criminals to harm, extort and defraud are constantly evolving, putting pressure on forces across the UK to seek new ways in preventing crime and apprehending criminals.

As such, digital has been a key focus with police forces transforming those on the beat and in the station with a number of new technologies – the recent Association of Police and Crime Commissions and National Police Chiefs Council’s ‘Policing Vision 2025’ put digital policing as one of their major challenges, aiming to make it easier for the public to make digital contact and improve the police force with digital intelligence.

This adoption of technology coincides with the public’s growing interest to interact with the police via digital channels, as highlighted in a recent report by Unisys.The Digital Police Force: Fighting crime with AI, automation & analytics

Entitled “Digital Engagement with London Citizens”, the report found that 83% believe it should be easier to contact the police via any digital channel, with a further three quarters of Londoners willing to report a crime digitally. Furthermore, 65% are more willing to report a crime or incident if it could be done via social media.

Speaking with CBR, John Wright, Global public sector industry Director of Unisys, said of the 2025: “The survey was carried out to find out how customers want to engage with the police to get better services.”

CBR’s April Slattery spoke to John Wright, Global public sector industry Director of Unisys about the 2025 Policing Vision and how digitally changing the police force will benefit both the taxpayer and the force and exactly how this will be done.


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AS: What is the purpose of the 2025 Policing Vision?

JW: The 2025 vision wants to digitally engage the public with the police and move the users of policing services to digital channels and away from the ones like telephones to better face crime and provide evidence.”

“Through the initiative digital policing will involve bringing new channels for the public to report through such as social media, chat, email and online submission forms.


AS: What other channels are people going to be able to use to tell Police about incidents?

JW: It enables a much quicker vision, so that it’s so that not a chore of an effort to contact the police, the public can easily make contact. People will use social media to communicate incidents, including criminals; they can post images videos and text evidence onto the channels.

Through the vast majority is still telephone driven, as found in the survey, through digital development there’s online forms, which are now much easier than in the past and people can email and also contact through Twitter. Basically, the vision is to make it much easier to provide or report information through their phone or laptop without calling through a phone.


AS: How will this digital push aid police work?

JW: It hopes to create improved productivity for Police forces. For example, if there’s been an altercation in the street officers will be able to very quickly sort out key communications through images, statements, videos and other information.


AS: In the survey, one of the stats said just over 60% said they were more willing to report an incident using digital platforms. Do you think technology will help cut the growing crime rate?

JW: Yes, I think because people understand the pressures on police and want to help and be able to do their civic duty and provide evidence and input. Currently this is difficult to do because traditionally just using a phone call or physical contact can limit the amount someone can report in detail. This is  because the systems aren’t up to the way people want to communicate today and it doesn’t provide them the flexibility a photo or video could.

The Digital Police Force: Fighting crime with AI, automation & analytics
AS: What is the technology that will underpin this digital force?

JW: Automation and artificial intelligence will be used. The initiative is hoping to automate technology to figure out where the gaps are in the information provided.

For example, automatically sending a text to someone who has provided evidence to let them know the police require information, without any human intervention. Advanced analytics will look at the message and content sent and enable the automated process to learn from how people report things and what language is used in order to develop the automation skills to increase productivity behind the scenes.

We want the technology to make it as seamless as possible for those who want to communicate with the police and the feedback is through whatever channel they want to use. Taking out human intervention and making the process as automated as possible will help increase the productivity of police cases and identify the necessary information needed.


AS: How do you think that the new digital platforms and channels are going to help with the demand and accuracy with people wanting to report incidents?

JW: I think it will help. Having served as a police officer in that environment, one of the biggest challenges is taking calls and investigating incidents is creating an image of someone or something. Trying to get somebody to describe what someone looks like or even a vehicle is a real challenge. Whereas now, if you can just ask did you take a picture and can you send it there’s no argument.


AS: How does this all benefit the taxpayer?

JW: The initiative is intended to provide a much better engagement mechanism with the police forces so that it’s not a chore of an effort to contact the police. The public get a better level of service when it’s fed back from themselves.

It is designed to allow users to provide information in a format that they can respond to much easier,  so if there is something happening in terms of a crime or incident you wants to make sure information can get sent quickly. By getting a quicker, reliable response it will help reduce the crime rate from an investigation point of view reduce impact of crime and criminality on society.

Developing a digital policing environment aims to help both the police force and the taxpayer. By using things like artificial intelligence it allows officers to spend more time doing other tasks that may not be able to be automated and enable them to give a better service to the public.

Additionally, the public will massively benefit from a digital policing platform because they can update the police from anywhere, anytime, from any device and through many different channels using photos, videos, voice calls or voice memos. Ultimately, the vision will hopefully create a more seamless way to solve crime, increase safety and benefit the wider community.

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