Truth Frequency Radio
Dec 03, 2014


When police officers in Minority Report predicted who would commit crimes, and stopped them before they happened, it was considered so futuristic the film was set in 2054. But, police in Berlin are considering adopting a similar software that predicts crimes and is named ‘Precobs’ – in a nod to the sci-fi film. Other forces, including police officers in two American states and London’s Metropolitan Police are also trialling predictive systems to catch would-be criminals. Developed by a German firm, the software program predicts when and where a crime is most likely to occur, based on different sets of data. It is being tested by police in the southern state of Bavaria.

‘The Berlin police is first waiting for the results of the trial run in Bavaria’ before deciding on on whether to acquire Precobs, a spokesman said. The name is a contraction of ‘Pre-Crime Observation System’. The ‘Precobs’ title borrows deliberately from the ‘precog’ term used in Minority Report referring to three psychics who predict crimes before they happen. The 2002 movie starring Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg was based on a story by Philip K Dick. The German Precobs system relies on data of the location, time and other details of past crimes, such as home break-ins.

When a new incident is reported, the software analyses the data to look for a pattern that will point to a future target. It was developed by the Institute for pattern-based Prediction Technique in Oberhausen. The initial results from tests on burglaries in the Bavarian cities of Munich and Nuremberg are ‘promising’, the state’s interior minister Joachim Herrmann said in a progress report last month. But a civil rights activist voiced concern in Tuesday’s Berliner Zeitung that personal data could eventually be used, instead of the currently anonymous information. Two months ago, London’s Metropolitan Police announced it has tested a system that analyses a person’s criminal history, and posts on social media, to assess how likely it is for them to commit a crime. The 20-week pilot study, which is the first of its kind in the UK, combined data from different crime reporting and crime intelligence systems used by the Met to pinpoint gang members who are more likely to commit violent crimes. Developed by global consulting group, Accenture, the latest software helped police analyse intelligence about known gang members across London’s 32 boroughs across a four year period.
Police then compared the software’s results to known acts of violence that took place in the fifth year to test its accuracy, but they are keeping quiet about the results. In Singapore, authorities are undertaking a Safe City initiative that combines electronic vision technologies and predictive analytics into CCTV video feeds to detect street incidents.



Last year, law enforcers in two American states used crime-prediction software to predict which freed prisoners are most likely to commit murder, and supervised them accordingly. Instead of relying on parole officers to decide how much supervision inmates will need on the outside by looking at their records, the new system used a computer algorithm to decide for them. The Minority Report-style software is already being used in Baltimore and Philadelphia to predict future murderers. It has been developed by Professor Richard Berk, a criminologist at the University of Pennsylvania, who believes it will reduce the murder rate and those of other crimes. Professor Berk says his algorithm could be used to help set bail amounts and also decide sentences in the future. It could also be modified to predict lesser crimes.