'Minority Report'-style predictive policing trialled by West Midlands Police

 

Minority Report-style predictive policing is being trialled on British streets in a bid to stop crimes before they happen.

The concept was key to the 2002 hit film starring Tom Cruise, and West Midlands Police are bringing the science to reality with a system designed to help residents who are expected to be burgled next.

Burglary victims and their neighbours are being aided by police after research showed they are especially vulnerable, particularly within two weeks of the original crime.

Superintendent Alex Murray, who is leading the experiment, said: "Predictive policing is about understanding where crime is going to happen before it's taken place.

"We're launching two experiments to see if we can make an impact on the burglary rates before burglary has actually happened."

The first, which comes after research by the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science, involves officers visiting burglary victims within 24 hours to check for weaknesses which would allow offenders to easily break into homes, such as inadequate locks on doors or windows.

Locks, alarms, timers and other crime prevention gadgets are then supplied to the homeowner in a bid to prevent a future attack.

Their direct neighbours are also offered the kit and advice, while their neighbours' neighbours are given advice on how to prevent themselves from becoming a victim.

The force will assess the effectiveness of the trial, which is running across half of Birmingham until next summer, and whether the taxpayer is getting value for money. If so, it could be extended force-wide.

The second experiment will look at the routes burglars take and the relationship between different types of streets and the burglary rate, with officers using the information to concentrate on certain street segments.

Mr Murray added: "We never underestimate the impact that a burglary has on the victim and this tactic will hopefully predict where the next burglary is going to take place, allowing us to prevent it before it happens."

PA

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