Force trials live facial recognition technology

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has launched a two-day live trial of facial recognition technology in targeted areas of central London. 

Dec 17, 2018
By Neil Root

The MPS said that, “as with all previous deployments, the technology will be used overtly with a clear uniformed presence and information leaflets will be disseminated to the public”. 

The mobile technology is being deployed in the vicinities of Soho, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square today and tomorrow (December 17 and 18), for eight hours each day. 

Posters are also being displayed in those areas with information about the technology.  

The MPS added that the technology “is being used in Westminster as part of the Met’s ongoing efforts to reduce crime in the area, with a specific focus on tackling violence”. 

During the deployment, all of the faces on the database being used are of people wanted by the MPS and the courts.  

The force has also emphasised that “anyone who declines to be scanned during the deployment will not be viewed as suspicious by police officers”, as there “must be additional information available to support such a view”.  

If a facial recognition match is alerted, “officers on the ground will review it and further checks will be carried out to confirm the identity of the individual”. 

The force has also engaged with a number of stakeholders during the development process of the technology. 

Ivan Balhatchet, the MPS strategic lead for live facial technology, said: “The Met is currently developing the use of live facial recognition technology and we have committed to ten trials during the coming months.  

“We are now coming to the end of our trials when a full evaluation will be completed. 

“We continue to engage with many different stakeholders, some who actively challenge our use of this technology. In order to show transparency and continue constructive debate, we have invited individuals and groups with varying views on our use of facial recognition technology to this deployment.” 

The MPS has previously trialled facial recognition technology before- in Stratford, east London in June this year to combat rising crime in the area, and at the Notting Hill Carnival in 2016 and 2017. It was not used at the carnival this year following concerns over the amount of false positive identifications (98 per cent).  

South Wales Police has led the development of automatic facial recognition in policing. It scanned a crowd of more than 170,000 individuals who attended a football match in June 2017. It became the first force to have a positive match using the technology at the UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Juventus in Cardiff, leading to the arrest of a 34-year-old man wanted on a recall to prison.  


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