UK Met Police Gangs Violence Matrix

Occurred: 2012-

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Gangs Violence Matrix (GVM) is a controversial database of thousands of alleged street gang members developed and operated by London's Metropolitan Police Service ('Met Police').

The GVM uses one or more algorithms to rank and categorise people included on the database, based on the risk each 'gang member' poses to others, and the extent to which the police and partner agencies interact with that person.

Reaction

The GVM (also known as 'Gangs Matrix') has been subject to multiple investigations, studies and legal reviews by Amnesty, Liberty, StopWatch, and other human rights organisations and academics.

It has also been the subject of a high-profile review (pdf) ordered by London mayor Sadiq Khan, and an independent review commissioned by then UK Prime minister David Cameron of England and Wales' criminal justice system by David Lammy MP.

These studies variously conclude that the GVM is inaccurate, discriminates against racial and ethnic minorities, and is, according (pdf) to Amnesty, 'unfit for purpose'.

In 2018, the Met Police's use of Gangs Matrix was served (pdf) with an enforcement notice by the UK privacy commissioner for 'potentially' breaking data protection laws, and for its failure to distinguish victims of crime and offenders. The notice was lifted in 2021.

In October 2022, the Met Police announced it had removed over 1,200 names from the list.

Transparency

The GVM database has been shrouded in secrecy since it was quietly introduced in 2011.

The Met does not inform people included on the database. Nor is there is any mechanism by which those included can discover what information is help about them, ask for their data to be reviewed or removed, or appeal against their inclusion.

It is unclear whether the GVM is shared with other organisations. Reports indicate it is shared with other UK government departments, including immigration enforcement.

Operator: Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)
Developer:
Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)
Country:
UK
Sector:
Govt - police
Purpose:
Predict gang violence risk
Technology: Ranking algorithm
Issue:
Bias/discrimination - race, ethnicity, income, geography; Accuracy/reliability; Privacy
Transparency: Governance; Complaints/appeals; Black box

System

Research, audits, investigations, inquiries, litigation

News, commentary, analysis

Page info
Published: February 2022
Last updated: October 2022