RoboCop may be getting a 21st Century reboot, as an algorithm has been found to predict future crime a week in advance with 90 per cent accuracy.
The artificial intelligence (AI) tool forecasts crime by learning patterns in time and geographic locations of violent and property offences.
Data scientists at the University of Chicago trained the computer model using public data from eight major US cities.
However it has proven controversial, as the model does not account for systemic biases in police enforcement and its complex relationship with crime and society.
Similar systems have been shown to perpetuate racist bias in policing in the past, which could potentially be replicated by this model.
But the researchers claim their model could also be used to expose the bias, and should only be used to inform current policing strategies.
For example, it found that socioeconomically disadvantaged areas may receive disproportionately less policing attention than wealthier neighbourhoods.
The computer model was trained using historical data of criminal incidents from the City of Chicago from 2014 to the end of 2016.
It then predicted crime levels for the weeks that followed this training period.
The incidents it was trained with fell into two broad categories of events that are less prone to enforcement bias.