Technology and the Law Policy Commission evidence sessions

Our Technology and the Law Public Policy Commission was created in 2018 to examine how algorithms are used in the justice system and whether controls are needed to protect human rights.

We held three public sessions in London and one in Cardiff where our commissioners took oral evidence from experts.

We also called for written evidence from interested parties. 

We wanted to hear from anyone who has an interest in technology, the rule of law and human rights, including:

  • practitioners, academics and tech professionals
  • civil liberties organisations
  • companies that make algorithms
  • public bodies that use algorithms

What AI-based technologies are currently in use in the justice system in England and Wales/internationally?

What AI-based technologies are in development which may have an application in the justice system?

What are some of the benefits that can be derived from the use of AI and other emerging technologies based on machine learning in the justice system?  What are some of the dangers?

What can we rely on the technologies to do well? And what should we not rely on them to do?

What lessons can be learnt from the application of these tools in other domains?

How has the industry reacted to concerns expressed about the uncontrolled use of AI in fields such as justice, or social policy?

Where does accountability rest, and what are the responsibilities of:

  • developers
  • suppliers
  • users of these technologies

How does the profit motive affect decision making on issues such as ethics and transparency?

What role does industry feel governments have in these issues?

What measures has industry collectively developed? How can we measure the effectiveness of these responses?

How does industry seek to engage with a wider stakeholder group? Should it, and can it do so effectively?

What are the constraints on development which delivers more safeguards?

What are the implications for the Rule of Law and Fundamental Freedoms from using algorithms in the justice system?

What role do citizens have in setting future norms? How can this be effective? Where does responsibility lie for such engagement?

What paradoxes exist in the debate between:

  • agency
  • privacy
  • regulation
  • innovation
  • speed
  • efficiency
  • safety

What do we know about human behaviour – from disciplines such as anthropology and political science – to understand the rationale for the trade-offs and values of today and the impacts on longer term understandings of the social contract?

Are these issues local, domestic, regional, global? How would business prefer this to be handled?

What can we learn from regional exploration in this area about the likelihood of, for example, Europe-wide consensus?

What are the challenges to achieving consensus?

How is (agile) governance effective?

Watch highlights from the evidence sessions:

London session 1

Session 1 was held on 25 July 2018 at the Law Society in London.

Guest commissioner Andrea Coomber, director of JUSTICE, joined the session, which concerned the current state of algorithms in the justice system and what’s on the horizon.

  • Dr Reuben Binns, human-centred computing researcher at the University of Oxford,  Dr Nikos Aletras, lecturer in natural language processing at the University of Sheffield, and Michael Veale, lecturer in digital rights and regulation at University College London
  • Professor Burkhard Schafer, professor of computational legal theory at Edinburgh Law School, and Professor Lilian Edwards, professor of law, innovation and society at Newcastle Law School
  • Dr Ricardo Silva, lecturer in statistical science at University College London, Professor Lorna McGregor, professor of international human rights law at the University of Essex, and Alexander Babuta, research fellow in national security studies at the Royal United Services Institute
  • Roger Bickerstaff, partner at Bird & Bird, and Professor David Hand OBE, emeritus professor of mathematics and senior research investigator at Imperial College London
  • Michael Barton, chief constable of Durham

Download a summary of the written evidence submitted by the witnesses (PDF 2 MB)

Listen to an audio recording of the session:

Listen to "Technology and the Law Policy Commission evidence session 1 on the state of algorithms in the justice system" on Spreaker.

Watch the video from session 1:

London session 2

Session 2 was held on 12 November 2018 at the Law Society in London.

Guest commissioner Sir William Blair, chair of financial law and ethics at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies, joined the session, which concerned the making, sale and use of algorithms in the justice system in England and Wales.

  • Marion Oswald, Winchester University
  • Matthew Lavy, 4 Pump Court
  • Professor Karen Yeung, Birmingham University
  • Dr Adrian Weller, Alan Turing Institute
  • Simon Burall, Involve
  • Ed Byrd and Gideon Cohen, Solomonic
  • Sue Daley, techUK
  • Guy Cohen, Privitar
  • Dr Hannah Knox, UCL
  • Alesis Novik, AimBrain
  • Nikita Malik, Henry Jackson Society
  • Dr Vicky Kemp, University of Nottingham
  • Lord Clement Jones, chair of AI Committee at DLA Piper

Watch the video from session 2:

Wales session

The Wales session was held on 7 February 2019 at the Law Society offices in Cardiff. This session focused on the use of algorithms by police forces in Wales.

  • Inspector Scott Lloyd, South Wales Police
  • Dr Adam Wyner, Swansea University
  • Professor Martin Innes, Cardiff University
  • Adam Curtis, Hoowla
  • Sharan Johnstone, University of South Wales
  • Mike Edwards, University of South Wales
  • Dr Bernadette Rainey, Cardiff University
  • Karl Foster, Blake Morgan
  • Huw Bowden, Bowden Jones
  • Emma Erskine-Fox, TLT Solicitors

London session 3

Session 3 was held on 14 February 2019 at the Law Society in London. This session focused on what controls, if any, are needed to protect human rights and trust in the justice system.

  • Professor Richard Susskind OBE
  • Jamie Susskind, Littleton Chambers
  • Alvin Carpio, Fourth Group
  • Professor Ioannis Lianos, University College London
  • Dr Vicky Kemp, Nottingham University
  • Dr Hannah Knox, University College London
  • Silkie Carlo, Big Brother Watch
  • Jacob Turner, barrister and author of Robot Rules: Regulating Artificial Intelligence
  • Peter Wells, Open Data Institute
  • David Powell, Hampshire Police
  • Judith Jones, Information Commissioner's Office
  • Hannah Couchman, Liberty
  • Dr Jiri Novak, chair of the IT Law Committee of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE)
  • Professor William Wong, Middlesex University
  • Catherine Miller, Dot Everyone
  • Clementina Barbaro, Council of Europe
  • Stephane Leyenberger, Council of Europe
  • Giovanni Buttarelli, European Data Protection supervisor

Watch the video from session 3:

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