New technologies in law enforcement: call for evidence launched by Lords committee

July 26, 2021

The House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Select Committee has launched an inquiry into new technologies in law enforcement.

The Committee seeks to explore the use of new technologies in the application of the law and the experience of people currently or previously engaged with them.

New technologies include machine-learning approaches; advanced algorithmic tools; artificial intelligence; and semi-autonomous or autonomous devices or systems. Application of the law includes activities to enforce, discover, deter, rehabilitate, or punish people who breach the law in a variety of contexts, as well as the prediction and prevention of future breaches.

Over the course of its inquiry, the Committee plans to discuss the existing legal and governance framework around the development and use of these new technologies, ethical issues raised by their use in the application of the law, as well as the lived experiences of end-users and individuals interacting with them. While the geographical scope of the inquiry is limited to England and Wales, the Committee also welcomes contributions related to the use of new technologies in the application of the law in devolved jurisdictions and overseas.

Topics the committee is seeking evidence on include: 

  • What should new technologies used for law enforcement aim to achieve and in what instances is it acceptable for them to be used?  
  • Do advanced algorithms used in law enforcement contexts produce reliable outputs, and consistently so? How far do those who interact with these technologies (such as police officers, members of the judiciary, lawyers, and members of the public) understand how they work and how they should be used? 
  • What mechanisms should be introduced to monitor the deployment of new technologies?  Who should be accountable for the use of new technologies, and what accountability arrangements should be in place? 
  • How can transparency be ensured when it comes to the use of these technologies, including regarding how they are being purchased, how their results are being interpreted, and in what ways they are being used?

The call for evidence ends on 5 September 2021.