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‘Human rights and fairness of trials endangered by uncontrolled use of AI’

by Gary Flood

Human rights and the fairness of trials endangered by uncontrolled use of AI in the English and Welsh legal system, warns the House of Lords. Stark new study from House of Lords’ Justice and Home Affairs Committee says too many Forces have raced into using advanced tech—and not just facial recognition—without proper supervision.

Use of artificial intelligence (AI), facial recognition and data analytics by British law enforcement is happening too fast for the public, government and law to keep up.

And unless steps like a mandatory UK-wide register of algorithms is set up and a new “duty of candour” placed on the Police to ensure full transparency over its use of AI the consequences could be extremely negative for British society: undermining a range of human rights, risk the fairness of trials, weaken the rule of law, and further exacerbate social inequalities.

The warnings come from concerned Peers in the UK’s second Parliamentary chamber, the House of Lords, who today have released a critical study on AI use, Technology rules? The advent of new technologies in the justice system.

The study—produced by the body’s Justice and Home Affairs Committee—says members started with the assumption that work on the understanding that “Artificial Intelligence (AI), used correctly,” has the potential to improve people’s lives through greater efficiency, improved productivity. and in finding solutions to often complex problems.

However, “We were taken aback by the proliferation of Artificial Intelligence tools potentially being used without proper oversight, particularly by police forces across the country”—of which facial recognition is only one among many.

The committee concludes that new “safeguards, supervision, and caution,” is urgently needed to better monitor advanced technology use in the justice system in England and Wales.

The committee also recommends a stronger legal framework and the establishment of a national body to set strict standards for the use of new technology, and that any new technological solutions proposed for use in the English and Welsh legal systems should be certified against such standards.

Photo: Copyright House of Lords 2021 / photography by Roger Harris

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