Scotland Yard goes futuristic to predict crimes

London: Scotland Yard is all set to begin using predictive tactics to tackle burglars and muggers.

The Metropolitan police is deploying officers to areas that daily "future crime" maps predict will be hit by burglaries.

According to 'The Sunday Times', the maps are produced using computer algorithms that combine local crime patterns, mathematics and even theories about foraging wild animals to pinpoint where crimes will happen next.

They produce "predictive areas" with a typical radius of no more than 250 yards, usually covering a number of defined streets.

"Predictive policing places officers in the right place at the right time using the most up-to-date information. We produce daily maps based on the most recent recorded crime information," Commander Simon Letchford, who is leading the "future burglaries" system, told the newspaper.

Initial evaluation of the scheme suggested the maps were "seven times more accurate than chance", with some boroughs showing significant reductions in burglary.

The project is backed by Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Met police commissioner, who like other chief constables ? faces the challenge of allocating shrinking resources more effectively and developing new ways to cut crime when police budgets are being reduced by 20 per cent.

Similar schemes have been tested in Kent, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and the West Midlands and reported impressive results.

The move is reminiscent of Steven Spielberg film 'Minority Report', in which Tom Cruise plays a police captain in charge of a department that apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called "precogs".

In real predictive policing, first used in America, the idea is not to anticipate an individual's thinking but to analyse criminal behaviour on a far bigger scale.


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