A report says the Met is falling behind other forces in the UK and abroad in the use of AI to tackle crimes ranging from burglary to terrorism.
The force should adopt the example of New York police, who use a system to link individual officers and smartphones with live feeds from 8,000 CCTV cameras across the city.
Conservative London Assembly member Steve O’Connell, chairman of the police and crime committee, urges the Mayor to slash the budget of his own police oversight body to pay for the technology. His report says AI technology has the potential to free up officers to focus on other duties at a time when police numbers in London are falling.
The software allows police to analyse huge volumes of data and can cross-reference information from different databases and surveillance systems. Uses could include analysing data to spot patterns in burglaries to identify potential suspects, or preventing the collapse of high-profile rape trials though the analysis of emails or messages. The study highlights one case where it took the Met 630 hours to analyse the content of three complainants’ mobile phones and Facebook accounts. Police on patrol could use an app to access analytical software involving individuals or vehicles, the report says.
Mr O’Connell points out that Avon and Somerset police have used an “off-the-shelf” AI platform which has multiple functions, including directing officers to crime hotspots.
He says one option could be to launch a pilot scheme in central London for 1,803 officers at a cost of £324,54
Savings could be made by trimming the budget of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, which he reveals has risen from £47.6 million in 2016/17 to £58.1 million in the last 12 months.
The report comes amid controversy over the Met’s use of facial recognition technology in London. The force has piloted the system at Notting Hill Carnival, at the Cenotaph on Memorial Sunday and at Westfield shopping centre in Stratford.
However, the Met is facing a legal challenge from Big Brother Watch, which argues that the use of facial recognition breaches the Human Rights Act. Scotland Yard says the technology will help keep London safe.
Mr O’Connell said: “All the evidence shows that investing in AI would help the Met solve crimes more quickly, drive up police performance and help officers cope with ever-increasing amounts of digital evidence.
“London needs more cops on the streets and the efficiency savings which would come from investing in AI could be used to employ hundreds of new officers. Since he was elected two years ago, the Mayor has splurged over £10 million on his own police and crime team at City Hall. It’s time for him to cut this waste and spend the money on technology which would help keep Londoners safe.”