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Role of Technology in Law Enforcement – How technology is a force multiplier for Law Enforcement?

Role of Technology in Law Enforcement – How technology is a force multiplier for Law Enforcement?


  • GS 3 II Science & Technology II Information and Communication Technology II Wireless Technologies

Why in the news?

There is an urgent need for law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to adopt technology in their operations as it can act as a force multiplier


Remarkable new digital technologies are transforming the ways police protect and serve, allowing agencies to prevent crimes more effectively and solve crimes faster. There is need for keeping pace with technologies that assist law enforcement globally and adopt them, as suited to Indian environment.

Role of technology in law enforcement:

  • Nearly every aspect of our lives, activity and industry has been transformed by technology over the last few decades. Law enforcement technology is one example of advancements that have changed the way law enforcement professionals investigate crimes. The sanctioned and actual strength of police personnel at all-India level per one lakh population
  • While more police do not necessarily mean less crime, but technology in today’s world is essential for law enforcement and crime resolution.
  • Police reforms in India have been slow; technology is catching up but in spurts. Remarkable new digital technologies are transforming the ways police protect and serve, allowing agencies to prevent crimes more effectively and solve crimes faster. There is need for keeping pace with technologies that assist law enforcement globally and adopt them, as suited to Indian environment.

Five pillars- digital service:

  • Forensics:
    • Two, use it for crime detection. Technology can effectively help get a digital footprint of the criminal.
    • Mobile forensics can be used to retrieve critical information such as contacts, photos, SMS, video, email, web browsing history, location information and social networking messages.
  • AI:
    • Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to match fingerprints, facial images, analyst CCTV footage and recognise vehicle number plates.
    • In order to detect false number plates, AI can also be used to recognise the make and model of the car and match it with the vehicle registered with that number plate.
  • Big Data
    • Three, use it in the realm of crime prevention. The holy grail for any LEA is to be able to prevent a crime before it takes place.
    • Big Data can play a major role as it can be used to identify crime patterns and hot spots. AI can be used to draw correlation between the type of crime, time, location.
  • Resource Management System
    • Four, LEAs have often not fully appreciated the impact of technology for improving internal efficiency. While most police departments in India have an operational human resources management system in place, efforts need to be put in to mine the data more effectively.
    • Analysis of educational qualifications, age, gender, religion, caste, training, posting, rank, and supervisor-to employee ratio can be used to identify gaps in the organisation.
  • Real time Integration
    • And finally, real-time integration. The five pillars of the criminal justice system are police, courts, prosecution, jails and forensics. While efforts have been made to integrate data from these five pillars at the central level, a lot of work needs to be done to integrate these systems at the state level.
    • Countless man-years are lost in taking physical files from one place to another. Real-time integration between the information technology systems of these pillars will help in reducing duplicate data entry and errors.

Surveillance and Monitoring:

  • CCTV: Common in most metros in India. These effectively assist law enforcement provided they are functional. For example, in the recent case in NOIDA a veteran Army Colonel was beaten up, arrested, handcuffed and tortured on fraudulent charges by an ADM
  • Drones: Law enforcement agencies are using drones for a variety of functions providing cost-effective solutions. They can provide real-time information to police and crime analysts vital information about crimes in progress and dangerous situations, as they unfold. It can help police better plan responses and save lives. Drones can capture and even live stream video and images of crimes as they occur, providing crucial evidence in future court proceedings.
  • Body-Worn Cameras and In-Car Videos: Police officers in some countries use body-worn cameras for better evidence documentation, increased accountability and transparency. However, the costs of implementing bodyworn cameras besides the cost of cameras, include ancillary equipment like tablets, data storage and management, training, administration, and disclosure.
  • Global Positioning System (GPS): GPS applications are continuing to expand into the law enforcement community. Using GPS technology, police can pinpoint the location of a call and determine the fastest and safest route to it, getting people the help they need more efficiently and timely
  • Automatic Tag and License Plate Readers: Mounted to the exterior of patrol cars, electronic tag readers are becoming more prevalent among larger departments and traffic-oriented agencies.

Biometrics for Data Security and Identification

  • Biometrics and Hand-Held Fingerprint Scanners: Use of biometrics using unique biological traits such as fingerprints, retina scans, and DNA to identify individuals is rapidly increasing among law enforcement circles.
  • Brain Fingerprinting: ‘Brainwave Science’ has developed technology that helps police establish guilt or innocence based on scanning brainwaves. Brain fingerprinting uses brain scans to capture how a crime suspect’s brain reacts when being questioned by police and determines whether a person being questioned remembers a particular item or situation.

Google Glass, HoloLens and Augmented Reality:

  • Driving on national highways in India, one often observes mobile interceptors for speed checks by the police. Using software especially designed for Google Glass, police officers take photographs of traffic violations and instantly upload them to their police department’s system.
  • A built-in screen provides information about the businesses, homes, and vehicles he looks at, while facial recognition software provides real-time information about the people he passes, letting him know if anyone matches descriptions of someone wanted.

Use of Social Media:

  • For law enforcement agencies and crime analysts, social media is proving itself to be a crucial criminal justice tool in gathering intelligence, locating clues and even screening candidates for employment.
  • There have been numerous cases of police thwarting or solving crimes based on tips gleaned from social media posts, as also undetected crimes have been successfully prosecuted as a result of videos posted on social media. However, the potential of social media as a crime-fighting tool is only just beginning to be realized.

Predictive-Analytics Software

  • PredPol is a software developed in the US that can predict where and what time the next crime will probably occur.
  • It helps find criminal patterns and behaviors and deploy police accordingly. PredPol is based on the observation that certain crime types tend to cluster in time and space.
  • It takes daily feeds from each department’s Record Management System for the predicting engine, which is run once a day to create predictions for each beat, shift and mission type. Using this technology, police agencies have seen efficiencies in staffing shifts and dramatic cuts in crime.


Technology continues to advance and other careers in criminology and criminal justice. The New York City Police, in conjunction Microsoft Corporation, has deployed ‘Dashboard’, a domain awareness system that ties in data from host of available sources, including Computer Aided Dispatch, crime reports and criminal histories, maps and even cameras to provide instant access to real-time information, pictures and video about calls in progress.

Mains oriented question:

The use of technology in criminal justice will continue to allow crime fighters to further their ability to serve and protect their respective communities. In context of this write about the role of technology in law enforcement. (200 words)