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Jurgen Stock and Lt General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Law enforcement bodies from around the world will gather in Dubai for the World Police Summit from March 14-17 this year, in order to exchange ideas on countering criminal activities in the digital era. The summit, to be staged at Dubai Exhibition Centre — Expo 2020, will be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Digital technologies such as cryptocurrency, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) have advanced rapidly in the last few years, presenting law-keepers with a challenging scenario. The summit in Dubai will bring together international policing departments and organisations from both the public and private sector to discuss the challenges and develop ways to counter them.

Key issues of law enforcement

Jurgen Stock, the secretary-general of Interpol, who will be speaking at the summit, said that innovation is a continuous journey and one where transparency, accountability and trust are the key issues for law enforcement. “Innovation is also about identifying new and more efficient processes. The roles and duties of policing will have to adapt to keep pace with the broader social, technological and economic developments that are shaping communities. This is where global dialogue and collaboration will play an important role in ensuring law enforcement can develop best practises in serving citizens,” he said.

The need for stronger, more comprehensive, proactive regulatory structures to tackle crime is becoming particularly important as criminals aggressively deploy novel technologies to commit crime.

In 2021, cryptocurrency-linked crime hit a record high, reaching $14 billion (Dh51.52 billion) in digital currency value. Mexican drug cartels are using drones to gather intelligence, run surveillance and even carry arms to attack rival gangs and security forces. Fraudsters replicated the voice of a company director in the UAE, using AI, and had $35 million transferred fraudulently from a Hong Kong bank.

Effectively curbing rising crime rate

Lt General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chief of Police and Public Security in Dubai and Chairman of the Anti-Narcotics Council, Dubai Police, said that collaboration was needed to build a regulatory infrastructure that can effectively curb the rising crime rate. “Our primary concern is how we can best protect our people, even in a digital age. Enforcers, regulators and innovators must join forces to create an environment where innovation can thrive, outside the shadow of crime,” Lt Gen. Dhahi said in a statement.

“We have always worked closely with other stakeholders to develop policies and create awareness around new technologies and we look forward to sharing our experiences and building a collaborative relationship with the global policing community at the World Police Summit 2022.”

Drones are a striking example of technology’s duality. While they have been used in criminal activities, they have also proven to be a great boon for law enforcement, to collect evidence, improve situational awareness and even act as first-responders. However, regulations around responsible drone usage in a public setting are still at a nascent stage worldwide, presenting a barrier to their full-fledged deployment.

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Regulatory grey area

Moreover, AI is gaining popularity within law-enforcement strategies for its ability to identify criminals through facial recognition technology. At the same time, it is also drawing increased public scrutiny due to the regulatory grey area and ongoing data privacy concerns. Without balanced and thoughtful regulation, law enforcers could be deprived of important tools and innovations that can help combat crime.

Addressing the gaps between enforcement and innovation will be a primary focus at the inaugural World Police Summit.