Major funding for flagship research project on AI in Law Enforcement

(Credit: Getty Images/EvgeniyShkolenko)

A project investigating the future use of probabilistic AI in law enforcement has received major funding from Responsible AI UK (RAI UK).

PROBabLE Futures – Probabilistic AI Systems in Law Enforcement Futures is an interdisciplinary research project led by Northumbria University in collaboration with Professor Carole McCartney (University of Leicester) as one of its co-investigators and impact lead.

The project has secured £3.4 million from RAI UK to fund four years of interdisciplinarity research. It is one of only three RAI UK Keystone projects.

The launch of PROBabLE Futures was announced at the CogX Festival in Los Angeles – a flagship event bringing together tech industry global leaders, changemakers and policymakers to address the question `How do we get the next 10 years right?’

Led by Professor Marion Oswald MBE (Northumbria University), the research team includes Dr Michele Sevegnani, Professor Dame Muffy Calder (University of Glasgow), Dr Claire Paterson-Young, Dr Michael Maher (University of Northampton), Dr Adrian Weller (University of Cambridge) and Dr Lizzie Tiarks (University of Aberdeen) as well as Professor McCartney.

PROBabLE Futures is also working with a number of law enforcement, commercial technology, third-sector and academic partners.

Explaining the background to the research project and its impact, Professor Oswald said “AI based technologies can deliver measurable benefits for police, courts and law enforcement bodies, helping to tackle digital data overload, identify previously unknown risks, and increase operational efficiencies. But a key problem for responsible AI is that the uncertain or probable nature of outputs is often obscured or misinterpreted. AI tools take inputs from one part of the law enforcement system, and their outputs have real-world, possibly life changing, effects in another part. Our research will aim to improve data quality and help ensure that we avoid miscarriages of justice.

Professor Oswald added “Our project, working alongside our law enforcement, third sector and commercial partners, will develop a framework to understand the implications of uncertainty and to build confidence in future Probabilistic AI in law enforcement, with the interests of justice and responsibility at its heart. We’re excited to work with RAI UK and the other Keystone projects to consider the implications of our research and our framework for other complex domains with probabilistic AI, such as healthcare, and to learn from their research.”

Professor McCartney added: “This multi-disciplinary project will utilise my expertise in policing technology, including biometric and forensic technologies, their legal and ethical use and their regulation. I will also lead the project's partnerships and impact work, using my experience of working with practitioners and policymakers.”

A Professor of Law and Criminal Justice at Leicester Law School (University of Leicester), Dr McCartney has twenty years of experience researching criminal evidence and forensic science.

University of Leicester is a world-leading research institution in the Top 30 of the UK, according to REF results in 2021. Artificial Intelligence is at the core of several major research investments at University of Leicester including its Space Park campus.

More information about the PROBabLE Futures project can be found here.