Accepted paper:

Knowing that it works: epistemologies of evaluating predictive hotspot policing


Daniel Marciniak (University of Essex)

Paper short abstract:

Predictive policing programs pose evaluators with the paradoxical task of proving that police intervention prevented predicted crimes. This paper highlights contrasting epistemologies in research, police and industry for deciding whether a strategy is effective and their role in its diffusion.

Paper long abstract:

How do you know that something has not happened? Predictive hotspot policing programs pose evaluators with the paradoxical task of proving that predicted crimes would have happened yet were prevented by specific police intervention . Drawing on empirical research including in-depth interviews with police analysts and software developers, along with observations from policing conferences, this paper highlights the contrasting epistemologies at play in predictive policing strategies. Based on preliminary research findings this paper identifies three distinct modes of knowing at work: scientific evaluation based on controlled trials, software companies' hit rates and police anecdotes. The paper assesses what role these epistemologies play in the diffusion of predictive policing technologies. Given the paradoxical nature of such evaluations, the paper further analyses how rationales for implementation continually shift from effectiveness to convenience.

panel A02
Predictive policing and the socio-technical government of risk