Webinar: The role of ethical AI in safeguarding children – A CESIUM case study

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Trilateral Research |

Date: 20 December 2020

What does your role involve in Lincolnshire Police?

I am a Detective Inspector, managing areas of ‘vulnerability’.  I am the Police safeguarding hub manager, responsible for managing Public Protection Notification (PPN) referrals to partner agencies. I oversee child exploitation, child abuse and adult vulnerability, and I am the tactical lead for ‘missing persons’, and the PREVENT lead for County Lines. I also have oversight, promote and escalate issues relating to Modern Slavery National Referral Mechanism (NRM) referrals / investigations.

I am also the chair of Multi Agency Child Exploitation (MACE) meeting, which involves working with partners to manage the exploitation risks for victims, offenders and locations in Lincolnshire’s policing area.

What are the top challenges in child exploitation that you are trying to resolve for Lincolnshire?

The main challenges faced within the child exploitation arena for Lincolnshire is obtaining information about who all the victims of exploitation are. It is not just those on the MACE agenda, but those who are hidden victims, especially those in geographically remote communities and those within diverse communities, who may not have any engagement with the police. Whilst Lincolnshire is one of the largest counties in England, our population is that of a small city. We have a population of less than 1 million people, compared to a city like Birmingham which has a population of approximately 2.5 million. This means we have less eyes in our communities to ‘see’ and ‘report’ any concerns of exploitation.

Other challenges we face are around the locations where victims of exploitation are being targeted and groomed – it may be in public, but also a common way for exploiters to target vulnerable people is through the use of the internet or messaging, and that hidden aspect in private homes is a challenge. Another is who the perpetrators of exploitation are to enable us to disrupt this perpetrator activity and safeguard our victims.

How do you believe CESIUM supports the fight against child exploitation? 

CESIUM supports our fight against child exploitation positively in a number of ways. Firstly, it can search our systems and present us with information that we already know but is often hidden or scattered in our systems. CESIUM then brings this information, data, or intelligence to the forefront of everyone’s attention. Secondly it can assist in predicting or preventing harm, with multiple snippets of information collated through CESIUM it can help determine potential victims or perpetrators of exploitation, and also assist in the identification of locations where exploitation is taking place.

Does the CESIUM approach assist in the response of police and partners in Local Safeguarding Partnership to the Wood Review recommendations and delivery of the ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ 2018 principles? If so how?

In my view the priority is information sharing, both internally within the police organisation and externally with partner agencies. If we are able to effectively share information, we will improve our safeguarding response in Lincolnshire and keep children safe.

CESIUM supports the analysis of information and intelligence received from partner agencies, and also assists us in sharing our police information with partners. The benefits CESIUM brings is shared across the partnership. CESUIM ensures a collective focus around child exploitation.

We are hopeful in the near future our partners in the County Council will also become part of the CESIUM project and this will provide us with a bigger picture of child exploitation within Lincolnshire. CESIUM is helping us to bring the different areas of our child safeguarding partnership together.

One of CESIUM’s core principles is to inform not replace the professional judgement of safeguarding professionals and agencies. How do you see the relationship of algorithms developed for policing purpose and the application of professional judgement?

CESIUM does not replace professional judgement, it steers professionals to relevant and important information, so they are able to make a well-informed decision. Co-designing algorithms with the various multi-agency perspectives of the MACE partners helps CESIUM present data and insights that supports all partners in determining child safeguarding priorities in ways that are independent of an individual’s bias or experience.

How has the project gone so far?

The project has moved forward exceptionally well, despite there being a global pandemic. It has been challenging for us, as we are not able to work in the way we would have worked previously, such as having face to face meetings and face to face testing of the CESIUM product.

That said we are almost there! We are ready for the product to be launched in ‘the cloud’ imminently and I very much look forward to trialling CESIUM in Lincolnshire Police. There really is a positive sense of anticipation. CESIUM has been promoted to internal and external partners, and we have all been part of CESIUM’s development process in order to make sure CESIUM delivers exactly what we require.

What does success in this project look like to you?

Success for me means that CESIUM will be able to provide us with the ability to earlier identify victims of exploitation; offenders who are exploiting children can be brought to justice sooner, and locations where exploitation is occurring can be identified. CESUIM will assist us to be better able to understand what makes children vulnerable.

While identifying children who may be vulnerable to exploitation, it is of real benefit that CESIUM will also assist in identifying where children are sadly already victims. Success will be where we can use this information to work with our partners so that victims can be supported at the earliest possible stage to move them out of the exploitation to improve their lives.

Finally, success will mean CESIUM will ‘do things that weren’t able to be done before’, using technology as the solution. As is the case now, rather than having to task an individual to systematically sift through data, in order to obtain a picture of what the exploitation looks like in Lincolnshire, which is inefficient, CESIUM will release this resource burden and allow our valuable resources to concentrate on other areas of tackling exploitation, improving efficiency and objectivity.

Contact our team for more information on CESIUM project and our work in combating child exploitation.

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