Start your claim

May 10th 2017

Andrew Petherbridge

Computer intelligence is a step forward but should never replace subjective decisions made by police officers on holding suspects

Andrew Petherbridge

Andrew Petherbridge

Legal Executive and Head of Civil Liberties

Computer intelligence is a step forward but should never replace subjective decisions made by police officers on holding suspects

It has been interesting to read that police in Durham are preparing to introduce an artificial intelligence (AI) system designed to help officers decide whether or not a suspect should be retained in custody.

It has been interesting to read that police in Durham are preparing to introduce an artificial intelligence (AI) system designed to help officers decide whether or not a suspect should be retained in custody.

The Data for the Harm Assessment Risk Tool (Hart) classifies suspects as being of low, medium or high risk of offending.

It was tested in 2013 by using police records of offending history between 2008 and 2012 to see how accurate it was in predicting whether suspects would offend or not over the next two years.

Sheena Urwin, head of criminal justice at Durham Constabulary, has said the system is likely to be used by officers at the force in the ‘next two to three months’.

It could therefore be used when deciding whether to keep a suspect in custody for a few more hours, whether to release them on bail before a charge, or, after a charge has been made, whether to remand them in custody.

System has proved accurate – but there are concerns over potential to wrongly detain suspects

There can be no denying that the system proved to be highly accurate during the testing period, with forecasts that a suspect was low risk turning out to be accurate 98 per cent of the time, while forecasts they were high risk accurate 88 per cent of the time.

However, although these stats look impressive, given my role in supporting victims of wrongful arrest and unlawful detention at Hudgell Solicitors, I have concerns over 12 per cent of suspects wrongly being assessed as ‘high risk’.

If considered using this Hart score alone, there would certainly be a danger of holding a suspect in custody, when in fact, they could be proved completely innocent and no threat to committing further crime.

It is also being reported that the software has been designed to be more likely to classify someone as medium or high risk, therefore erring on the side of caution to avoid releasing suspects who may commit a crime.

In my opinion, it is a dangerous move to introduce a system which is influenced in any way to reach a certain conclusion. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Police forces must have a genuine reason for arresting a person and then detaining them in custody, and they must follow set procedures to stay within the law themselves.

If people are held for longer than appropriate, it can be unlawful imprisonment, so this technology, particularly given what has been revealed, must be used with caution.

Recommendations must be carefully considered, and impact of system must be scrutinised

The introduction of Hart as a system for officers to use is being described as a ‘live experiment’, and officers will only use the system in a random selection of cases, so that its impact can be compared to what happens when it is not used.

Its developers have been keen to stress it will be used in an “advisory” role, and should not remove discretion from the police officer using it.

That will be key in ensuring mistakes are not made, as no matter what volume of stats and data are available to a piece of software – no matter how advanced – it will never match the subjective, informed and knowledgeable view of experienced police officers.

Ms Urwin has said that suspects with no offending history would be less likely to be classed as high risk by Hart, though if they were arrested on suspicion of a very serious crime such as murder, it would have an “impact” on the output.

In such a case, computer software would surely be at a huge disadvantage to the officers involved in investigating the offences and benefitting from being aware of continually updating evidence on the case, and speaking to witnesses.

Helen Ryan, head of law at the University of Winchester, has described Hart as “incredibly interesting” in principle, saying that ‘potentially, machines can be far more accurate – given the right data – than humans.”

That is something yet to be proved, and until that is the case, it should be used with caution, and only one aspect influencing decisions over detentions of suspects.

What Our Clients Say

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Anthony and his team at Hudgell…"

Anthony and his team at Hudgell solicitors are extremely professional and caring People. From the first phone conversation right through to completion i was always kept updated, if i had any concerns and contacted them, they were always happy to listen and put my mind at rest. I would highly…

Mrs lisa martinJanuary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service"

Great service . Made me feel at ease . Proffesional and very quick to respond to any questions or concerns I would highly reccomend

LesleyJanuary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service"

Excellent service

JensonJanuary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service"

Excellent service, Alex Garven was most helpful in dealing with my claim. Many thanks for his hard work in getting a result for me,. It took quite a while but during that time I received regular progress updates and a quick response if I had any queries .

Jill ElliottJanuary 15, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Lauren Dale"

Lauren Dale was so sensitive when dealing with my mums claim and she totally understood what i really wanted from the outcome. she kept me fully informed of everything, as and when it happened. I cannot thank her enough for her help and understanding on such a sensitive case. 5…

Jane from North YorkshieJanuary 11, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent Service"

Excellent, professional and friendly solicitors. It was a very simple process and they kept in constant contact to update me on any developments. Would definitely recommend.

Philippa January 09, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Could not have been simpler or easier"

Could not have been simpler or easier, they did everything required and more. Nice, pleasant to talk to, they do all the leg work, put everything into context and resolve as quick as possible. Hopefully will not have to use again but if a situation arises then would not hesitate…

DarrenJanuary 08, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Very helpful and always kept in touch…"

Very helpful and always kept in touch via email through the while process. Highly recommended

Joseph Conrad Waudby January 07, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Brilliant customer service"

Brilliant customer service, always will contact you as they say they will. Have been very helpful with my case and explained the process thoroughly, very easy to understand. Would definitely recommend.

Julia MatildaJanuary 07, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Verry happy with the result they got…"

Verry happy with the result they got for my claim very officiant and professional my particular solicitor was the most friendly official type person that I have dealt with before really happy with the freindly kind manner in which they dealt with myself and my claim I would recommend them…

Richard RobertsJanuary 07, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Very impressed with the fast turn…"

Very impressed with the fast turn around of Hudgell. Very responsive and friendly too.

CustomerJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Wonderful service"

Wonderful service, was kept up to date regularly and once they received an offer to settle my case, they advised that they could get a better offer and did just that, will definitely pick up the phone again if I ever require their services in future.

Jordan HowarthJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"These solicitors were very helpful and…"

These solicitors were very helpful and I was surprised when they told me that they were pursuing a totally different avenue to the one I thought was available. They were very efficient, constantly in communication with myself and were direct with the opposite party. Needless to say, they won my…

GARY COSGROVEJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Take a leaf out of there book"

I would certainly recommend Was kept up to date via email promptly each time I asked a question Postal and email correspondence was fluent and my claim settled in a timely manner Many thanks to Alex and his hard work

Mandy Michelle WainwrightJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Couldn’t of chose a better solicitors…"

Couldn’t of chose a better solicitors to go through my claim with, Sarah informed me every step of the way (even when they was nothing to update me with) was such a quick process and she couldn’t of been more helpful ! 5*

Courtney FriendJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"karl griffin fantastic man"

karl griffin was fantastic extremely helpful and fought every step of the way for me he was always there whenever i needed him i highly recommend hudgell solicitors to anyone who needs there help they made a horrible situation dissappear

Jeni DaleJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Alex is amazing"

Alex is amazing! He took over my claim and everything changed from negative to positive. Case still ongoing but fantastic service so far from Alex. Great communication - answering calls and emails. Spot on in everything. I am very glad he is handling my case now and I am confident…

Seth OppongDecember 27, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Highly recommended"

Excellent service and communication from start to finish. The whole process of handling my personal injury claim was dealt with quickly and courteously.

MikeNovember 26, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Becci was amazing"

Becci was amazing, she was so friendly and helpful and couldn’t have done a better job at helping me with my claim. Very happy.

Katherine JanineNovember 08, 2019