Thieves beware: UK police may predict crime

Thieves beware: UK police may predict crime

In what could be a revolutionary step in policing, British police may be able to predict crime before it takes place using a software that can suggest when serious criminals will strike again.

British police are in talks with a technology company about introducing the "predictive" software called "Person of Interest" (POI) which has been developed by Wynyard, a New Zealand firm that works with western intelligence agencies including the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the FBI.

Paul Stokes, Wynyard's chief operating officer, told 'The Sunday Times' that the company was in talks with police in the UK but said confidentiality agreements prevented him from commenting further.

In New Zealand, POI technology is used by the police and government agencies who feed data on known offenders and "at risk" individuals and groups into the system.The software analyses the data, compares it with emails, text messages and social media files, and alerts law enforcement officials to impending threats.

The use of predictive software echoes the plot of Minority Report, a film starring Tom Cruise in which a "pre-crime" department stops offenders before they commit their acts.

Describing POI, Stokes said, "It tells you in real-time that these people have done something abnormal and you need to go and check on them. Something unusual is starting to happen. Let's get there before something really bad happens."

One possible use in Britain could be for child protection, particularly after cases in which information was not shared between agencies. The Home Office, whoever, said it was "not aware" of the talks with Wynyard. 

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