Digital Ethics and Policing: A way to re-build trust

by David Rose - Sustainability, Digital Ethics and Social Impact Consultant
by Dr Kevin Macnish - Head of Ethics and Sustainability Consulting
| minute read

Digital technology plays a central role in policing in the UK. It has the potential to revolutionise policing and drive improvements across the force, leading to better outcomes for citizens and resulting in increased levels of trust in the police. But it also risks amplifying pre-existing problems in policing, as well as introducing new and complex ethical issues.

In 2021, Sopra Steria produced a report on Digital Ethics and Policing and identified a number of ethical challenges faced by police forces when working with technology and data. For example, there are no ethical procedures or guidance in place to enable data sharing among forces, and there is a risk of bias resulting in damaging and unfair outcomes. Both of these profoundly impact the levels of trust the public has in the police service.

There has been a notable decline in trust in policing throughout the UK as a result of damaging scandals. Digital ethics represents an opportunity for the police to re-build citizen trust by establishing ethics as the central pillar in their approach to digital technology. At Sopra Steria, we believe digital ethics is not just about mitigating risk and preventing negative outcomes, but about empowering people to make the right choices when using data and technology. A key focus of our approach is the importance we place on citizen-centric solutions as a key driver of trust. The approach is characterised by its emphasis on transparency and informing the public how the police use digital technology in fair and responsible ways. The purpose is to ensure that ethics becomes operationalised in all areas of the police force, actively used throughout the technology lifecycle, and supported by an ethically astute workforce. We are focused on helping police forces identify and shape the characteristics of a positive digital ethics culture that guides their approach to technology and establishes a trustworthy relationship with the public.

Sopra Steria is uniquely placed to advise police forces on implementing digital ethics. We have been partnering with police forces for several decades, supporting them in their efforts to protect the public, and helping them make the most of technology and the positive impact it can have on policing. Based on unique research and engagement with forces, we are also leading the way in developing innovative approaches to digital ethics in policing. The Public Safety Group (PSG) and the Digital Ethics practice work closely to ensure that ethics is suffused throughout all the products and services we offer to customers. This will be key to police forces re-building trust with the public.

Read the report 




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