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ICO launches dedicated toolkit to assist police forces in using data analytics

10 December 2020

THE INFORMATION Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is urging police forces to build-in data protection from the start when considering data analytics projects. To this end, the organisation has now created a toolkit specifically designed to help the law enforcement sector comply with data protection law.

The toolkit emerges in the wake of the ICO undertaking a project as part of its Artificial Intelligence-focused priority work designed to explore the use of data analytics in the law enforcement sector in order to develop an understanding of current activity.

ICO director Anthony Luhman commented: “We want to help police forces ensure their data analytics projects are right. Our toolkit is designed to do just that. We absolutely recognise that data analytics is a new and complex area. This toolkit is just one of the ways in which the ICO is helping organisations as part of its Artificial Intelligence priority work.”

Further, Luhman observed: “Any innovation that relies on personal data must make the time to consider data protection. It’s the law, but it’s also a vital step towards gaining and then maintaining public trust and confidence in the technology, and notably so in terms of how people’s data is used.”

Data analytics is the use of software to automatically discover patterns in data sets containing personal data and use them to make predictions, classifications or risk scores. Data analytics can help police forces analyse large volumes of police-held data with a view towards assessing the risk of someone committing a crime or becoming the victim of criminality.

The ICO’s toolkit takes police staff through the data protection points they need to think about from the outset of any project that their force is planning to undertake involving data analytics.

If a police force is considering using data analytics, those involved should be thinking about data protection from the start. This means making sure the force’s data protection officer is involved early on and, with that officer’s assistance, conducting a data protection impact assessment.

*The toolkit is available on the ICO’s website at www.ico.org.uk/letoolkit