20 Mar 2024

The use of AI technology is now evolving at a fast rate.

Victoria Police must use all new technologies while strictly following policy and law. We have developed an Artificial Intelligence Ethics Framework to ensure ethical use of AI at Victoria Police. The Framework is in line with:

  • the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act
  • Victoria Police Organisational Values and
  • the Code of Conduct.

The Framework

This framework addresses eight (8) enabling principles.

  • Human rights
  • Community benefit
  • Fairness
  • Privacy and security
  • Transparency
  • Accountability
  • Human oversight
  • Skills and knowledge

AI Ethics Framework: Introduction

Ensuring Victoria Police applies relevant legal and ethical frameworks to any use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

This framework is intended to ensure Victoria Police applies relevant legal and ethical frameworks to any use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Artificial Intelligence technologies can assist police in achieving important law enforcement objectives including offender identification, efficient processing and management of data; efficient resourcing to exercise core policing functions; and promoting community safety. 

Appropriately designed and tailored AI can be more efficient in policing contexts than reliance on human assessment alone. 

AI can assist police to process and act upon large data sets to provide operational and intelligence clarity that enhances the human decision-making process (but should never be used in place of human decision making).

AI technologies can present risks if applied in an ill-equipped manner or inappropriately tailored to the use case. 

Such risks include where AI technologies operate in a discriminatory manner that is inscrutable to the officer using the technology, which may result in violations of human rights and or risk of legal consequences; and where AI technologies replace human decision-making processes or the exercise of police powers (such as arrest or the use of force).

It is imperative to ensure the use of all AI is ethical and lawful, to ensure the benefits of the technology can be harnessed whilst also maintaining community trust and confidence in the work of Victoria Police.

AI Ethics Framework: Operating environment

All actions, operational decisions, and technologies deployed to achieve community safety and disrupt crime should be lawful and ethical.

Victoria Police must keep the Victorian community safe. It must also ensure that all actions, operational decisions, and technologies deployed to achieve community safety and disrupt crime are lawful and ethical.

Victoria Police delivers policing services in a complex operating environment and receives authorisation for its activity from multiple sources. 

Victoria Police is subject to legislation and policies including Common Law, Commonwealth Law, State Law, Policy, Regulations and Chief Commissioner Instructions. 

Victoria Police must comply with its legal obligations in undertaking its work and using technologies (including any stage in piloting, trialling, adopting or utilising AI technologies).

Strict adherence to the legal obligation in the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act (2006) (the Charter) is required in utilising AI in any context within Victoria Police.

Victoria Police is bound by the legal obligation on public authorities in s. 38 of the Charter. This requires that all decisions and actions ‘properly consider’ and ‘act compatibly’ with the 20 rights protected in the Charter. 

This includes the protection from unlawful discrimination (s.8), the protection of privacy and reputation (s. 13), and criminal procedural rights (s. 25).

Compliance with the legal obligation in the Charter could include, for example, ensuring AI technology is fit for purpose for the specified use case by undertaking evaluation into the accuracy of the algorithms used by different vendors to ensure compliance with Victorian legal requirements; and ensuring the use case for the technology ensures transparency and accountability requirements where the technology is used to guide the exercise of police powers. 

Legal advice should always be sought to ensure any piloting/adoption/use of AI technologies is lawful, including with reference to the legal obligations under the Charter.

Whilst there are many forms of AI available and marketed towards law enforcement purposes from vendors around the world, it is imperative that Victoria Police ensure any use of AI is compatible with the legal authorising environment that applies in Victoria.

AI Ethics Framework: Governing frameworks

Victoria Police has modelled this framework on the guiding principles of the Australia’s AI Ethics Principles.

Victoria Police has modelled this framework on the guiding principles of the Australia’s AI Ethics Principles which is a voluntary framework, in conjunction with the Police Artificial Intelligence Principles developed by Australian New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA).

The Australian Government Principles aim to provide a safe secure and reliable implementation of AI. Whilst this is a voluntary framework it recommends eight (8) associated principles which address:

  • Human, societal, and environmental wellbeing 
  • Human-centred values 
  • Fairness 
  • Privacy protection and security 
  • Reliability and safety 
  • Transparency and explain ability 
  • Contestability 
  • Accountability

The ANZPAA Artificial Intelligence Principles is a high-level document that reflects the cross jurisdictional policing commitment to community safety, harm minimization and maintaining community confidence for those policing agencies adopting and deploying artificial intelligence systems.

The Victoria Police artificial intelligence framework has consolidated the principles of these and other international governing frameworks to ensure legal and ethical applications of AI by the organisation, which must be assessed against legislation and policy. 

Victoria Police will continue to review and adapt this framework in the event of a Victorian Government framework is implemented.

The Digital Transformation Committee will be the governing body authorised to provide approval for the use of AI technologies by Victoria Police.

AI Ethics Framework: Definitions

The definition of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

There is no universally agreed definition of AI, this framework will apply the following definition:

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is a collection of interrelated technologies that can be used to solve problems and perform tasks autonomously to achieve defined objectives, in some cases without explicit guidance from a human being. (Hajkowicz et al. 2019) Artificial Intelligence is more than just the mathematical algorithms that enable a computer to machine learn from text, images, or sounds. It is the ability for a computational system to sense its environment, learn, predict, and take independent action to control virtual or physical infrastructure.

It should be noted, an algorithm is a set of instructions that tells a computer what to do. It can be as simple as adding two numbers together or as complex as solving a difficult mathematical problem.

AI Ethics Framework: Enabling principles

The eight enabling principles of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) that must be applied under this framework.