New Software Helps to Predict Crimes and Catch Criminals

[Technology ★★★]

police database search illustration Harry Campbell Briefing Solutions

(P1) New technology in the world of police and crime aims at making it easier to catch criminals. Researchers and computer experts are working on new computer programs that try to find out which areas of a city might be more prone to crime than others.

(P2) The software analyzes how police have patrolled certain districts of a city in the past and compares this information to present day data. This data is also compared to behavior patterns of criminals.  While it may take humans hours to spot a certain pattern, machines can do this in a short time. The program has been successfully tested in the United States and Great Britain.

(P3) Software giants like IBM are helping combat crime. The company states that over the past years it has helped to bring down crime in Memphis by 30%. Software programs help to find out where the city’s hotspots are so that police can concentrate on patrolling certain areas.

(P4) In Los Angeles, a similar program is being tested with the help of another computer company. The city’s police supervisor states that working with serious data is far better than just tracing calls and hoping to get lucky in catching a criminal.

(P5) In Great Britain, millions of pounds have been spent on TV surveillance. Although government officials say that CCTV is working critics say that despite getting camera images from all over the country there are not enough police officers patrolling the streets.

(P6) In the future, the European Union hopes to combine both techniques, sophisticated computer software paired with camera surveillance. One of the problems is that there is too much video material, which makes it impossible for the police to examine. With special software, a lot of footage could be examined in a relatively short period of time.

WORDS: 295


VOCABULARY: prone, patrolled, patterns, hotspots, concentrate, tracing, surveillance, sophisticated, impossible, footage


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do the police in your city patrol your neighborhood? If yes, how often? If no, do you want them to?
  3. Do you feel safe where you are living at now? Why or why not?
  4. Tell me 3 things the police could do better in your city.
  5. Do you think camera surveillance (CCTV) is an effective way to stop people from committing crimes? Why or why not?


What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • Bring down (P3)
  • Get lucky (P4)
  • CCTV (P5)

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Image source: by Harry Campbell For TIME

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