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London police to use data to predict crime before it happens

Gang members that apparently have the highest chance of committing a crime can now reportedly be identified using a special product.

Accenture's new software, resembling that seen in the Minority Report movie, relies on data that has been collected over four years.

London Metropolitan police has ordered the software with the goal of trying to predict when people will commit crimes. The software passed a 20-week-long trial, and has used different statistics and social networks as sources of information.

"What this does is tell you who are the highest risk individuals that you should target your limited resources against," Muz Janoowalla, the head of public safety analytics at Accenture, told the BBC (opens in new tab).

The test compared four years of data with events of the coming year. In that way, the police tried to retroactively test the program's capability and accuracy.

Police unfortunately wouldn't go into details of the test, or the criteria used when generating conclusions.

"For example, if an individual had posted inflammatory material on the Internet and it was known about to the Met - one gang might say something [negative] about another gang member's partner or something like that - it would be recorded in the Met's intelligence system," explained Janoowalla.

Read more: Meet AISight: The scary CCTV network completely run by AI (opens in new tab)

Heads of Big Brother Watch, a British civil liberties and privacy pressure group, have asked the police to reveal more information.

"The police need to be very careful about how they use this kind of technology," said research director Daniel Nesbitt.