Expert condemns predictive software

A nine-month-old baby is the youngest person to be identified as a future delinquent using new technology aimed at predicting risk, a Community Care conference heard last week.

Dr Eileen Munro, reader in social policy at London School of Economics, warned that rapidly developing IT could become a monster rather than a useful tool.

Focusing work on young children singled out as would-be criminals could end up as a self-fulfilling prophecy, she added.

Munro told the People Not Paperwork conference in London: “I believe labelling a nine-month-old who has done no more than dirty his nappy is completely immoral. We are a profession that’s meant to help people so the idea should be not to do things that damage people.”

Ian Johnston, head of the British Association of Social Workers, told delegates that many new IT systems were incompatible with each other and led to duplication of effort.

And David Johnstone, chair of the Association of Directors of Social Services standards and performance committee, said the current assessment process was too complex and demanding.

Readers’ Views

This week’s website question asks: A nine-month-old baby has been identified as a future offender. Should social services intervene? 

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Last week almost 70 per cent of visitors to Community Care’s website said parents with learning difficulties were not treated fairly by social services.


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