Met Top Dog Defends LFR

Recent terrorist related attacks that have happened in the capital have spurred the Metropolitan Police on to use facial recognition technology to track suspects.

However, this has come under attack from ‘ill-informed’ critics, which has forced the Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, to step in and defend her decision.

The Met top dog revealed that eight criminals had been caught using the live facial recognition (LFR) cameras.

According to the force, LFR has an 70% accuracy rate. False identifications have been made, however, this one in a thousand times.

Previously, Nick Ephgrave, an Assistant Commissioner at the Met, defended the LFR decision, saying:

“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.”

However, a report from the Royal United Service Institute, looked at the use of data and algorithms that police forces in England and Wales use. After looking at this data in detail it was recommended that the police should issue new guidelines in this area, which covers the use of LFR technology.

Dame Cressida Dick delivered an empowering speech at the report’s launch defending the use of the data analytics by those in her Constabulary.

An independent review revealed that most ‘offender’ matches using LFR were in fact false. With the real true match standing at 19% and opposed to the 70% set out by the Met.

Dame Cressida Dick said:

“If an algorithm can help identify, in our criminal intelligence systems material, a potential serial rapist or killer….then I think almost all citizens would want us to use it.

“The only people who benefit from us not using [it] lawfully and proportionately are the criminals, the rapists, the terrorists and all those who want to harm you, your family and friends.”

She also went on to say that “inaccurate” critics should

“justify to the victims of those crimes why police should not be allowed to use tech… to catch criminals.”

As with the use of CCTV, LFR has come under scrutiny from critics with regards to the amount of privacy it affords people who are constantly being monitored when they are going about their daily business in the capital.

Silkie Carlo, Director of Big Brother Watch, said:

“It is purely magical thinking to suggest facial recognition can solve London’s problem with knife crime.

“The Commissioner is right that the loudest voices in this debate are the critics, it’s just that sh’s not willing to listen to them.”

However, Dame Cressida Dick countered this argument regarding privacy, citing the modern world’s need to stay connected on social media.

She said:

“In an age of Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, concern about my image and that of my fellow law-abiding citizens passing through [facial recognition] and not being stored, feels much, much smaller than my and the public’s vital expectation to be kept safe from a knife through the chest.”

What are your thoughts on LFR? Do you think it’s a technology we should embrace or steer clear from?