The Metropolitan Police Service has announced it will begin using Live Facial Recognition (LFR) technology in London.
Scotland Yard has said that the technology will be deployed in “specific locations” to tackle incidents such as violence, gun and knife crime, child sexual exploitation.
In LFR, the biometric dimensions of individual faces are scanned and compared to a database of images. The use of the technology has become a contentious subject, with some arguing that it risks invading an individual’s privacy if they have not given consent for their face to be scanned.
LFR has also been criticised for disproportionately misidentifying people of colour.
Last year, the Information Commissioners Office urged police forces to “slow down” on the rollout of the technology due to a lack of regulation and potential for “widespread invasiveness”.
However, in September 2019 The High Court ruled that South Wales Police use of LFR was “consistent with the requirements of the Human Rights Act and the data protection legislation” after Ed Bridges took legal action against the force after his image was captured.
How the Met Police will use facial recognition in London
According to the Met Police, each deployment of LFR will be a standalone system, using a specific ‘watch list’, made up of images of wanted individuals, with cameras clearly signposted and officers deployed nearby.
It has said that the technology is intended to be used as a ‘prompt’ for police officers locating or arresting wanted people.
Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave, said:
“This is an important development for the Met and one which is vital in assisting us in bearing down on violence. 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. Prior to deployment we will be engaging with our partners and communities at a local level.”
“I have to be sure that we have the right safeguards and transparency in place to ensure that we protect people’s privacy and human rights. I believe our careful and considered deployment of live facial recognition strikes that balance.”