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Technology to tackle knife crime

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From facial recognition to body-worn cameras, technology is useful but controversial in the fight against crime.

Technology has the potential to improve most areas of life and in some it can save lives. But where it is a matter of life and death is also where it has to be applied with the most care. Policing, detection and enforcement is one such area. We all want to stop crime and catch criminals but without discrimination, harassment or a police state. We take a look at some of those thornier applications. Can technology help to fight knife crime?

It’s been rising in the UK in recent years at an alarming rate and techniques like artificial intelligence could be employed to help combat it, but how can we ensure the algorithms are fair and proportionate and don’t just make the situation worse?

Predictive techniques could be extended further with facial recognition, but this opens another human rights issue. Near-real-time facial recognition isn’t far away with the body-worn cameras now favoured by police forces. Police believe these cameras have helped to cut illegitimate complaints against their officers, and the figures point in the right direction, but independent reports have concluded we can’t be absolutely sure of the cause and effect. Officers on the beat face a tough time and are now themselves frequently filmed by the public, so let’s have that research to put the concerns to rest.

Chris Edwards looks at the broader subject of how artificial intelligence is learning to fight crime. If we are to trust policing to algorithms, how can we also teach them to be fairer than prejudiced human beings?

After a long, steady decline due to improvements in vehicle security, car crime is making a return by exploiting the growth of wireless key entry. Thieves are taking the signals from keys left near front doors and relaying that to unlock car doors on the street. Aside from car owners keeping their car keys further inside the house, what can be done to stop the rising tide of car hacking? James Hayes investigates.

It’s just one way in which new technology is providing new opportunities for crime. There have always been obsessive stalkers and jealous exes but the growth in so-called stalkerware or spouseware is giving them the upper hand to frighten and intimidate former partners in this smartphone-dependent age. Helena Pozniak looks at what technology companies can do in their own app back yard to discourage this hacking.

Can engineering help to prevent crime in the first place just by giving it more thought at the design stage? Can it be designed out of the environment? James O’Malley looks at how planners, architects and engineers are putting subtle but cunning features into the streets and buildings around us to discourage crime. There are measures in plain sight that we may not even notice but are everywhere. Indeed, I’ve been spotting more around London since I read this article.

Graphic showing UK crime figures

Image credit: E&T

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