Critical Understanding of Predictive Policing

The Nordic-Baltic countries and the UK are considered leaders in the digitalisation of the public sector and have also established long-term cooperation in regard to law enforcement, an important function of the public sector. At the same time, law enforcement is currently going through a transformation by applying digital strategies to improve its efficiency and effectiveness, predict events and automate work in crime detection and prevention in several countries.

The use of data-driven innovations in police work has attracted considerable attention in policy circles, media coverage, and legal, and academic debates. However, these debates are largely speculative, focusing on the potential of new forms of police work. Very little is known about how big data is adopted and adapted in law enforcement activities, nor are the consequences of these activities clear to the public. Furthermore, the growing role of data analytics in law enforcement brings into question how citizens’ rights are being protected. More broadly, how we understand ‘safety’ and ‘policing’ is being fundamentally transformed.

The aim of Critical Understanding of Predictive Policing (CUPP) is to investigate how institutional and social values, digital affordances, and organisational politics are conceived and embedded in data-driven police innovations, and experienced and practised by police officers and developers of digital police infrastructure in Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and the UK.

The CUPP project will take an interdisciplinary approach, combining Science and Technology Studies (STS), Critical Criminology, and Critical Big Data Studies to identify and explore the effects and impact of data-driven police technologies on society and end-users. CUPP will apply a three-phase methodological approach consisting of recent historiography, fieldwork and interviews, and collaborative interventionist analysis. The research team will generate vital new insights about how law enforcement is conceived and practised in the digitalised state, as well as how public participation and scrutiny is ensured in the procurement, implementation and use of digital infrastructures. Additionally, the research will shed light on what social and political values are inscribed within digital solutions.

Project members

  • IT University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • PROSA (Denmark)
  • University of Technology Tallinn (Estonia)
  • University of Latvia (Latvia)
  • Baltic Studies Centre (Lativa)
  • University of Oslo (Norway)
  • University of St Andrews (UK)

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