1st Edition

Criminal Futures
Predictive Policing and Everyday Police Work

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after December 14, 2020
ISBN 9780367349264
December 14, 2020 Forthcoming by Routledge
256 Pages

USD $150.00

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Book Description

This book explores how predictive policing transforms police work. Police departments around the world have started to use data-driven applications to produce crime forecasts and intervene into the future through targeted prevention measures. Based on three years of field research in Germany and Switzerland, this book provides a theoretically sophisticated and empirically detailed account of how the police produce and act upon criminal futures as part of their everyday work practices.

The authors argue that predictive policing must not be analysed as an isolated technological artifact, but as part of a larger sociotechnical system that is embedded in organizational structures and occupational cultures. The book highlights how, for crime prediction software to come to matter and play a role in more efficient and targeted police work, several translation processes are needed to align human and non-human actors across different divisions of police work.

Police work is a key function for the production and maintenance of public order, but it can also discriminate, exclude, and violate civil liberties and human rights. When criminal futures come into being in the form of algorithmically produced risk estimates, this can have wide-ranging consequences. Building on empirical findings, the book presents a number of practical recommendations for the prudent use of algorithmic analysis tools in police work that will speak to the protection of civil liberties and human rights as much as it will speak to the professional needs of police organizations.

An accessible and compelling read, this book will appeal to students and scholars of criminology, sociology, cultural studies as well as police practitioners and civil liberties advocates, in addition to all those who are interested in how to implement reasonable forms of data-driven policing.

Table of Contents

1.Criminal futures  2.Predictive policing and its origins  3.The police and technology  4.Data and the need for speed  5.Humans and machines  6.Putting risk on the map  7.Patrolling risk  8.Does it work, though?  9.’Bad’ predictions  10. The future of (predictive) policing


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Simon Egbert is a Postdoc Researcher at the Department of Sociology, Technische Universität Berlin. Trained in sociology and criminology, his research interests include science and technology studies, security studies, sociology of prediction, time studies, discourse theory, visual knowledge studies, sociology of testing. He has published papers on predictive policing, drug testing, lie detection, ignition interlock devices.

Matthias Leese is a Senior Researcher for Governance and Technology at the Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich. His research is primarily interested in the social effects produced at the intersections of security and technology. It pays specific attention to the normative repercussions of new security technologies across society, both in intended and unintended forms. His work covers various application contexts of security technologies, including airports, borders, policing, and R&D activities.


This timely book presents rare ethnographic data within an outstanding analysis of current debates on predictive policing. Conceptualising predictive policing as a sociotechnical system, the book describes various translation processes that lay bare the political, cultural and organisational forces at work. This welcome book sets the standards for future research on data-driven policing.

Janet Chan, Professor, UNSW Law