Vigilantism and Technology: Citizenship in 2018

Vigilantism and Technology: Citizenship in 2018

The act of sharing is an indelible part of our modern existence. Whilst social media is still awash with photos of holidays and brunches with friends, increasingly users are utilising the power of sharing in an effort to fight crime and help organisations tackle modern slavery. In more recent years, social media platforms have seen users upload instances of alleged police brutality, lucid testimony of sexual harassment and animal cruelty, encouraging individuals to share their perspectives on criminal activity.

Technology has become a new partner in crime fighting. Since 2012, police forces have utilised data mapping alongside other predictive tools to help anticipate instances of crime and deploy police more effectively. However, in more recent years, these kinds of technologies have been rolled out to the lay population which allow users to record, video and snap instances of crime. Popularised by infamous apps such as Vigilante- now rebranded as Citizen- which encourages users to witness, record and document live crimes taking place near them. Whilst these technologies are certainly well intentioned and are designed to promote citizenship, the rise of vigilantism is changing the face of not only modern policing but also impacting the legal process that follows.

Traditional mapping tools have enabled police forces to better predict crime by recording the location and type of crime. Trend led analysis has enabled boroughs to more accurately deploy staff at pertinent times and in select locations, enabling front line police to carry with them greater insight into challenging areas and to better anticipate and predict crime. Whilst crime mapping adds insight into the crime profile of an area. Utilising mapping tools to plot past crime can embed ingrained and systematic discrimination. When this kind of trend led analysis begins to drive predictive crime models, this can help substantiate and systematise historic biases. While this piece of tech has proved useful for developing criminal profiles- crim

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About the author:
Catherine is one of the Future of Law's digital editors. She graduated from Durham University with a degree in English Literature and worked at a barristers chambers before joining Lexis Nexis.