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The House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee has been hearing today, 13 July 2021, from experts in the West Midlands who are leading the way on ethical scrutiny and use of AI and data science in British policing. It comes as part of their inquiry into new technologies for law enforcement.

Members of the committee include Chair Baroness Hamwee, former Home Secretary Lord Blunkett and former Secretary of State Lord Hunt.

As well as scrutiny of the use of data science and AI, the West Midlands is also at the forefront of the exploration into how technology can be used to improve policing, make it more effective and efficient so that other law enforcement agencies can make proper use of it. This includes innovative new data science to tackle major problems such as modern slavery and violence against women and girls, as well as supporting public health approaches to crime prevention and tackling the inequalities that lead to crime.

Members of the House of Lords heard about the work being done in the West Midlands, including its role leading the National Data Analytics Solution funded by the Home Office, which is using advanced artificial intelligence tools to help law enforcement.

The Ethics Committee was launched in 2019 to advise the PCC and Chief Constable on the projects being proposed by their Data Analytics Lab.

Its membership includes leading academics and practitioners in data science, human rights, privacy and law as well as policing and criminal justice experts.

Following the success of the committee, the Police and Crime Commissioner is now looking at launching a national Ethics Institute in collaboration with other police forces and law enforcement agencies.

Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Tom McNeil, who helped to found the Ethics Committee said: “Today was a great opportunity to present our work on data ethics.

“It is vital that ethics are at the heart of the use of these tools, which could be highly intrusive. Our committee has provided robust and transparent advice on the police use of artificial intelligence and continues to monitor the ethical application of these innovations.

“I’m looking forward to working on the Ethics Institute which will enshrine this work, build stronger links with the public on this issue and help other police forces and agencies learn from our experience.”

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