Weather forecasting is a standard fixture but how about forecasting crime? Well, a new software programme called “PredPol” claims to do just that and is being trialled in the UK, by police in Kent.
Detective Sergeant Martin Smith explained: “Each box represents a 500 foot square area. The algorithm is telling us it’s an important part of the area to police. In the last 180 days, you’ve had a burglary, three vehicle crimes, four violent crimes and four criminal damages. The boxes are all lettered, so from A to Z. A, B, C, D are the most high priority.”
The crime prediction boxes are the result of the same calculations used to predict earthquakes. Using records crime data and human behaviour, the system predicts areas where offences are likely to take place. Officers receive updates from the system twice a day and then decide where to patrol.
Inspector Garry Woodward said: “It’s the real demographics of the area, the people, the places, what kind of buildings they are, taller buildings might mean there’s more crime or less, it takes into account everything.”
So far it seems that “PredPol” is driving down crime and helping to increase police visibility by advising officers where to deploy.
Detective Inspector Jonathan Sutton said: “It will identify a location where we are able to prevent crime from happening. By preventing crime, that naturally reduces our demand and therefore allows us to be more visible, more pro-active in our policing.”
The trials in Kent are still in the early stages but when the system was tested in California, reported crime fell by 12%, and burglaries by 27% – which is good news for all concerned.