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Law Society seeks solution to use of algorithms in UK justice system


By Dr David Cowan

16 July 2018 at 13:27 BST


The Law Society has set up the first of three evidence sessions to explore the use of algorithms in UK.

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The Law Society’s Public Policy Technology and Law Commission will examine the use of algorithms in the justice system in England and Wales and what controls, if any, are needed to protect human rights and trust in the justice system. Commissioners will take oral evidence from experts, with the first session taking place on 25 July, 4-6pm at the Law Society. The Law Society is calling for written evidence from all interested parties on the topic of algorithms in the justice system, and will be hearing from practitioners, academics, technology professionals, civil liberties organisations, companies that make algorithms, public bodies that use them, and anyone who has an interest in technology, the rule of law and human rights.

Legal panel

The Law Society president, Christina Blacklaws will be in the chair as main commissioner, with co-commissioners Sofia Olhede, director of the Centre for Data Science at University College London, Sylvie Delacroix, professor in law and ethics at Birmingham Law School, and guest commissioner Andrea Coomber, director of Justice. Artificial intelligence and algorithms are increasingly being used in a range of public spaces including in law enforcement and terrorism. Speaking at the launch of the commission last month, Ms Blacklaws said the design, sale and use of algorithms to deliver justice or maintain security ‘raises questions about unconscious bias, ethics and rights. Further potential risks may emerge when an algorithm is developed by a business focused on profit rather than by an organisation focused on delivering justice.’

Specific questions

The commissioners will ask whether algorithms and their use within the justice system should be regulated, and if so, how. Specific questions being considered are: What algorithms that you know of are currently in use in the justice system in England and Wales? Are there any algorithms that you know of that are currently being developed for use in the justice system in England and Wales? What are some of the benefits that can be derived from the use of algorithms in the justice system? What are some of the dangers? How does bias in decision making cut across existing legislation? Are there any algorithms currently in development for use in the justice system? How do they differ from algorithms currently being used? How will their effectiveness and adherence to ethical principles be guaranteed? Interested parties may attend by registering through this link.

 
   
 
 
 

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