AGM and meeting on Policing and Criminology

The next meeting of the section will be held on 10 December 2018 from 14.00-17.00 at the Royal Statistical Society, 12 Errol Street, London EC1Y 8LX. The AGM of the section will be from 13.40-14.00, immediately preceding the meeting.

The meeting will be on policing and criminology. We will have four speakers:

  • Professor Jim Smith (University of Warwick/ Alan Turing Institute)

Graphical Models to Help Investigate Violent Criminals

One serious challenge in providing support for policing various kinds of systematic violent crime is that cases can be very dynamic and idiosyncratic. In this talk I will outline the progress we are making in designing new graphical interfaces that help to separate the enduring structure of these processes from their more ephemeral features. Our Bayesian models have derived from earlier studies concerning the synthesis forensic activity level evidence but are now applied to resourcing models to support the prevention of crime. This reports on ongoing work undertaken by a team of researchers at the Alan Turing Institute.

  • Dr Anjali Mazumder (Carnegie Mellon University/ Alan Turing Institute)

Algorithmic Tools in Justice – bias and fairness, a causal lens

There has been an increasing use of algorithmic tools to support decision-making across public sectors, including financial, human, health care, policing and criminal justice services. The use of such algorithms is not new. However, with growing recognition of the bias and potential for unfairness that such tools may possess and perpetuate, researchers have begun to develop methods to achieve algorithmic fairness. In this talk, we discuss the use of algorithmic tools in justice, their potential for and inherent bias and implications on fairness in such high stakes decision-making, and approaches to achieve algorithmic fairness. We will take a particular causal lens to explore the fairness of algorithmic tools in which forensic science plays a central role in both the investigative and evaluative stage of a criminal case. This latter work reports on ongoing work undertaken by researchers at the Alan Turing Institute and Carnegie Mellon University.

  • Professor David Tuckett (Psychoanalysis Unit, UCL)

Making Decisions under Radical Uncertainty

How can academic study help business-leaders, policy-makers, regulators or those in in a courtroom, make better decisions? For a long time now, the answer has been by using tools such as game theory, expected utility theory, subjective utility theory to provide them with optimal choices – and often with major success. However, are these tools always – or even usually – appropriate? What role do specifically human qualities of imagination, feeling and intuition have to play? What is the role of analysing “data” properly and is the conclusion to draw from academic research that humans are poor decision-makers, influenced by bias and emotion, so that we would be better relying on AI as often as possible?

This talk will review these questions by introducing the work of the UKRI funded CRUISSE[1] network and introducing Conviction Narrative Theory, as a model for human decision-making when there is deep uncertainty.

[1] Confronting Radical Uncertainty in Science, Society and the Environment.

  • Dr Toby Davies (Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science, UCL)

Understanding and predicting urban patterns of crime

One of the most crucial steps in preventing crime is understanding where and when it happens: as well as providing a basis for the deployment of police resources, such insight also provides a rationale for the application of place-based interventions. Traditionally, gaining such insight has been a particular challenge, given the complexity of behaviours involved, and its utility has been primarily descriptive. In recent years, however, improved data availability, coupled with the application of analytical techniques from other fields, has revealed a number of statistical regularities in crime data; most notably, its heterogeneous distribution in space and time and the prevalence of space-time clustering. In turn, the presence of these regularities has raised the possibility that they can be leveraged in order to predict the locations of future crimes by applying algorithms to past crime data. In this talk, I will briefly review this background, before discussing recent research which examines the role that urban structure – in particular the street network – plays in shaping these patterns. I will discuss the implications of this for crime prediction, and show how the adaptation of algorithms to account for this structure leads to improved predictive performance. In conclusion, I will describe a real-world implementation of predictive policing and identify opportunities for further exploitation of data in the field.

Attendance at the meeting is free of charge but registration is required. The registration link can be found here:



Mon 27 Feb – joint event with RSS Glasgow local group (livestreamed)

Statistics & The Law – an event hosted jointly by the RSS Statistics and Law section and the RSS Glasgow local group.

Date:                                    Monday 27th February 2017

Speakers:                            Professor Jane Hutton, Department of Statistics, University of Warwick; Dr Tereza Neocleous, School of Mathematics & Statistics, University of Glasgow

Time:                                    5.30pm-7pm (followed by drinks and nibbles)

Place:                                    LT 908, Livingstone Tower, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, G1 1XH

Livestreaming:                  This event will be simultaneously broadcast online via livestream

Registration:                       Please register to attend the event in person or to join the livestream here: Those who for the livestream will be contacted via email with a link and participation details 24 hours prior to the event

Twitter:                                Join the discussion and post questions using the hashtag  #RSSGlaLaw

Jane Hutton: Epidemiological evidence in civil legal cases – ‘If anticoagulants had been administered sooner, my client would not have died.’ ‘This drug damaged the sight of my patient.’ How much money should be awarded to a child who is disabled due to medical negligence? Should a teenager with cancer be given active treatment if doctors estimate he has two weeks to live? Statements and questions such as these are the basis of civil law suits, in which one party claims damages from a second party, or demands particular actions. Many lawyers still only request expert opinions from medical doctors. However, statisticians can contribute to civil law suits by finding evidence relevant to the particular case, evaluating it, and then presenting the information.

Tereza Neocleous: Models for forensic speaker comparison – This talk will present ways in which statistical modelling can be used to evaluate the evidential value of voice recordings such as those occurring in hoax phone calls, calls related to extortion, fraud cases, or involving abuse or threats. Examples of how vocal features extracted from such recordings can be modelled to provide a measure of the strength of evidence will be presented, followed by a discussion of opportunities and challenges in this field in the era of big data.

WORKSHOP: Statistical Modelling of Scientific Evidence, Newton Inst Cambridge Nov 7-10

Programme on Probability and Statistics in Forensic Science (July-Dec 2016)
Isaac Newton Institute, University of Cambridge
Programme organisers:

Leila Schneps – Institut de Mathématiques de Jussieu
David Balding – University of Melbourne, University College London
Norman Fenton – Queen Mary, University of London
Richard Gill – Universiteit Leiden
David Lagnado – University College London

Registration is open ( for the 3rd and final workshop in the programme from November 7 to 10.  This workshop covers statistical modelling of different kinds of scientific evidence used in the legal system (DNA evidence will be prominent, but other evidence types will also be modelled and discussed).
  • Opening lecture by Prof Gerd Gigerenzer, Director of the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition and also of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin
  • Closing lecture by Professor Bernard Silverman, Chief Scientific Advisor, Home Office, UK.
  • Registration fee: £202 (students £162) includes admission to all seminars, lunches and refreshments on the days that lectures take place (Monday – Friday), wine reception and formal dinner, but does not include other meals or accommodation.
  • Day attendance may also be possible if space available – don’t register but contact me.
  • Formal deadline is August 2 but later applications may be accepted depending on availability.
  • Relevant abstracts welcome, there are vacant slots for contributed oral presentations and for posters.

Invited Speakers

  • Mikkel Andersen (Denmark)
  • Amke Caliebe (Germany)
  • James Curran (New Zealand)
  • Peter Gill (Norway/UK)
  • Therese Graversen (Denmark)
  • Ate Kloosterman (Netherlands)
  • Amanda Hepler (USA)
  • Keith Inman (USA)
  • David Lucy (UK)
  • Ronald Meester (Netherlands)
  • Geoff Morrison (Canada)
  • Cedric Neumann (USA)
  • Sue Pope (UK)
  • Roberto Puch-Solis (UK)
  • Daniel Ramos (Spain)
  • Norah Rudin (USA)
  • Charles Sauleau (France)
  • Marjan Sjerps (Netherlands)
  • Klaas Slooten (Netherlands)
  • William Thompson (USA)
  • Torben Tvedebrink (Denmark)
  • Gabriel Vivo-Truyols (Netherlands)
  • Sandy Zabell (USA)

Event – Women and the Criminal Justice System – past, present and future

The Centre for Criminology and School of Law at the University of Essex are hosting a one-day event with the Royal Statistical Society which may be of interest.  The event, entitled Women and the Criminal Justice System – past, present and future, brings together academics and professionals to consider women’s journeys through the criminal justice system as victims and offenders, using a range of statistical and qualitative evidence.


Title: Women and the Criminal Justice System – past, present and future

Date: 15 April 2016

Venue: Royal Statistical Society, London,

Blurb: Join us in London for our one-day conference to discuss women as victims and as perpetrators of crime.

Throughout the day, academic researchers and professional practitioners will describe and analyse the journeys women take as they engage with the criminal justice system – from the point of being at risk of becoming a victim or offender, through experiences of trial, diversion and being inside and outside of prison – using a range of statistical and qualitative evidence.

This conference brings together the latest academic and policy analysis to key issues concerning women and the criminal justice system, aiming to inform practice, stimulate academic-professional partnerships and provide an opportunity for networking.

This conference is organised by the Centre for Criminology and the School of Law at the University of Essex with the Royal Statistical Society, co-sponsored by ESRC and Palgrave MacMillan.

Tickets are free and all are welcome.  Lunch will be provided with a wine reception to close proceedings.

For further information see our website: