Met To Adopt Facial Recognition Technology

An atrocity that has happened in the capital over the weekend, has strengthened The Metropolitan Police’s view in adopting facial recognition technology.

The Met have been considering this technology for a while, but announced recently, that it will start using live facial recognition (LFR) technology to scan public areas for suspected criminals.

This hasn’t been an easy decision in the making. The Met have trialled this technology for over two years, which sees cameras linked to a database containing images of suspects. If a match is made, an alert will be generated.

Johanna Morley, a senior technologist in the force, said the facial recognition technology has an accuracy of 70%. False identifications have been made by the cameras, but this was one in a thousand times.

Nick Ephgrave, an Assistant Commissioner at the Met, said:

“As a modern police force, I believe that we have a duty to use new technologies to keep people safe in London. Independent research has shown that the public support us in this regard.”

The Met have stated that the cameras will only be deployed after consultation with local communities. Active cameras will be displayed overtly, leaving the public in no doubt that they are being watched as they go about their daily lives.

Commenting on the Met’s decision to introduce LFR, the director of Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo, said:

“It flies in the face of the independent review showing the Met’s use of facial recognition was likely unlawful, risked harming public rights and was 81% inaccurate.”

A spokesperson for the campaign group Liberty said:

“This is a dangerous, oppressive and completely unjustified move by the Met. Facial recognition technology gives the state unprecedented power to track and monitor any one of us, destroying our privacy and our free expression.”

This isn’t the first time facial recognition technology has been used by a police force. South Wales police is currently using the software following a high court ruling.

In September 2019, Cardiff’s high court ruled that the police’s use of automatic facial recognition technology to search for people in crowds is lawful.

There is a slight sting in the tail with LFR. The European Commission revealed it is considering a ban of the very same technology in public areas, for up to five years. This is so regulators can work out solutions to prevent the technology from being abused.

Will we see different areas of society adopting facial recognition technology more and more to help streamline processes?