The challenges of risk profiling used by law enforcement: Examining the cases of COMPAS and SyRI

Sascha van Schendel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


The use of Big Data in the law enforcement sector turns the traditional practices of profiling to search for suspects or determining the threat level of a suspect into a data-driven process. Risk profiling is frequently used in the USA and is becoming more prominent in national law enforcement practices in Member States of the European Union. While risk profiling creates challenges that differ per jurisdiction in which it is used and vary along the purpose for which the profiling is deployed, this technological development brings fundamental changes that are quite universal. Risk profiling of suspects, or of large parts of the population to detect suspects, brings challenges of transparency, discrimination and challenges procedural safeguards. After exploring the concept of risk profiling, this chapter discusses those fundamental challenges. To illustrate the challenges, the chapter uses two main examples of risk profiling: COMPAS and SyRI.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRegulating new technologies in uncertain times
EditorsLeonie Reins
Place of PublicationThe Hague
PublisherT.M.C. Asser Press | Springer
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-6265-279-8
ISBN (Print)978-94-6265-278-1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Publication series

NameInformation Technology and Law Series
PublisherT.M.C. Asser Press / Springer
ISSN (Print)1570-2782


  • Risk profiling
  • Big Data
  • Predictive Policing
  • law enforcement
  • Discrimination
  • Legal Safeguards
  • predictive analytics
  • Data Protection


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