Forget Byomkesh Bakshi-style crime-solving techniques, AI makes job easy for cops

Recently Delhi police solved a murder case by resurrecting the face of the victim using AI which is the new way forward

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  26 Jan 2024 4:03 AM GMT
Forget Byomkesh Bakshi-style crime-solving techniques, AI makes job easy for cops

Mumbai: Years ago, the constabulary played a critical role in intelligence gathering to prevent crime and also detect cases. The police force across the country trusted their instincts because of their ground-level connections with the local community.

Gradually, technology came into play, and the dependency shifted to different kinds of surveillance systems, beginning with monitoring landline phones. With the further boost in technology leading to its misuse, the job of law enforcement agencies became difficult; however, there was also help in detection with the improvement in monitoring systems.

Locations could be traced by monitoring mobile phones; cases were solved with the help of footage from closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, and so on.

Enter cutting-edge technology; the use of artificial intelligence (AI) is spreading like wildfire. Though AI is now finding prevalence in various sectors, including transport, finance, and healthcare, and is also highly misused by unscrupulous elements for deepfake and swindling, it is gradually becoming an important tool for crime prevention and detection.

Just recently, the Delhi police solved a murder case by resurrecting the face of the victim using AI. An unidentified man was found murdered under a flyover in the national capital. The condition of the victim’s face made his identification difficult even with the use of conventional scientific methods. The investigation team found no other belongings that could have helped in his identification.

The AI helped in recreating the face in such a way that it digitally gave life to the victim. The background was also changed to resemble the River Yamuna. Posters with the AI-generated image were circulated and caught the attention of his brother. He told the police about the dispute his brother had with some people, leading to the arrest of four accused, including a woman.

This case has prompted attention to the effectiveness of AI in solving serious crimes. Experts believe that AI will soon become an important tool not only in the prevention and detection of cyber and online crimes but also in complex violent cases.

Besides resurrection, facial recognition, preventive surveillance, the use of AI cameras at the crime scene, and even the use of AI in day-to-day policing may gradually become an integral part of the procedure.

On the future of AI in crime prevention and detection in India, Sorab Ghaswalla, AI Communicator, AI ethicist, and cybersecurity specialist said, “Like any other country, India has already started using artificial intelligence in crime prevention and detection. And like any other country, India, which today is the most populous country in the world, will have to use AI to control crime.”

He further said that the current police-public ratio is about 153 policemen per lakh people, so AI will help in augmenting policing, crowd management, and crime detection.

“If police officers are given the right training and exposure to this new technology, it can go a long way in not only solving cases but in what is called predictive policing, which is a relatively new development in the field of law and order,” said Ghaswalla, who is also the founder of New Age Content Services LLP.

“Like smartphones and cell towers are playing a very big role in catching criminals, AI, too, will one day start playing a major role. If done the right and ethical way, the combination of man and machine can help thwart criminals and criminal activities, including terrorism.”

When asked if AI can be a tool to prevent and detect serious/violent crimes, he said, “Without doubt. Look at how it is being used in some of the other countries like the US or some of the European nations. AI uses historical crime data and identifies patterns to forecast, for example, when and where many crimes are likely to occur.” “This then makes the local police force proactively increase patrols in those areas or monitor them closely to deter criminals,” he further said.

Ghaswalla said that connecting CCTVs to AI can help analyze footage in real-time, and help in triggering alerts, leading to faster police response time. “Social media is another platform where AI tools can be used to scan for trigger words associated with criminal activity or look for patterns,” he said adding, “Forensic analysis is another area where AI supersedes humans in finding patterns in vast datasets including DNA and fingerprints. This is just the beginning, the potential is huge, and much remains untapped because it is still a nascent tech in the real world.”

Pankaj Bafna, a cybercrime lawyer said that law enforcement agencies have already started adopting artificial intelligence software in tracing criminals through their biometrics due to which criminals will be very easily caught and records will be linked. “This fear has made criminal's mindset weak,” he said.

About AI as a tool to prevent and detect cybercrime, Bafna said, “Yes AI is a very good tool to prevent cybercrimes if law enforcement is trained properly.” “Criminals will not be able to access the database as their footprints will be traced immediately,” he added.

Ghaswalla and Bafna both agreed that the police force would require rigorous training. “Like in cybercrime, policemen will have to be trained in using AI. They need to understand, after all, how these tools work to make informed decisions,” Ghaswalla said. “But let me divert here a bit, and this is extremely important, to emphasize that the potential of AI is such that it can be misused. So any training, be it for policemen or other professionals, must also take into account issues like ethics and morals.”

On the need for an AI branch, Bafna said that separately trained police personnel of young age will be required with technical and legal knowledge. Ghaswalla, however, said there is no need for a separate AI branch. “AI is also linked to digital and online worlds, so there will always be a to and fro interaction. Officers of cybercell are better placed to be trained in the use of AI compared to their other colleagues, he said adding, “Most of these officers are already solving online frauds, financial scams and so on. AI will augment their detection capabilities.”

D Sivanandhan, former Mumbai Police Commissioner and Director General of Police, Maharashtra said, as a policeman, he is happy that the Delhi police have made this breakthrough. “But whether it is AI or a quantum computer, criminals use it first. So law enforcement agencies should be prepared to match them and be three steps ahead of them!” he said adding, “The government should first adequately invest in software and hardware to keep up the momentum of the law enforcement agencies.”

Sivanandhan said that in the future all crimes would be committed with the use of cyberspace.

(Article by Manish Pachouly)

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