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Police staff manager wins award for work on risk assessment tool

Durham head of criminal justice department helped validate AI system used by custody officers to assess harm risk in offenders
Published - 14/08/2020 By - Gary Mason

The work of a police staff member who has validated a harm assessment risk tool which uses artificial intelligence to forecast an offender’s potential to re-offend has been recognised with an award.

Durham Constabulary’s Harm Assessment Risk Tool (HART) is an algorithmic forecast of an offender’s potential to offend.

The artificial intelligence (AI) approach helps forecast the risk in terms of seriousness and can be used in custody to support the custody sergeant’s decision making.  

This helps ensure that any support or diversionary action is appropriate to the risk the individual poses.

HART has received national and international attention.

Sheena Urwin, who heads up the Criminal Justice Department at Durham Constabulary, collaborated with Cambridge University on the independent validation and development of the algorithm frequently travelling across the globe to share this technology within policing. 

Mrs Unwin has now been awarded Police Staff Member of the Year by the British Association for Women in Policing.

Temporary Superintendent Vicki Martin, of Durham Constabulary, who is also chair of Star – a support network to ensure women in the force reach their potential, said: “The area of IT and AI is predominantly male.  To have a woman working at this level and with such success is exceptional. 

“This work is truly ground-breaking, and she deserves formal recognition from her peers.”

The award ceremony, which was due to take place in June, has been postponed until November.

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