The Metropolitan police will start using live facial recognition, Britain's biggest force has announced. The decision to deploy the controversial technology, which has been dogged by privacy concerns and questions over its lawfulness, was immediately condemned by civil liberties groups, who described the move as "a breathtaking assault on our rights". But the Met said that after two years of trials, it was ready to use the cameras within a month. The force said it would deploy the technology overtly and only after consulting communities in which it is to be used. Nick Ephgrave, an assistant commissioner, 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."
Live facial recognition cameras will be deployed across London, with the city's Metropolitan Police announcing today that the technology has moved past the trial stage and is ready to be permanently integrated into everyday policing. The cameras will be placed in locations popular with shoppers and tourists, like Stratford's Westfield shopping center and the West End, reports BBC News. Each camera will scan for faces contained in "bespoke" watch lists, which the Met says will predominantly contain individuals "wanted for serious and violent offences." When the camera flags an individual, police officers will approach and ask them to verify their identity. If they're on the watch list, they'll be arrested.
There will soon be a new bobby on the beat in London: artificial intelligence. London's Metropolitan Police said Friday that it will deploy facial recognition technology to find wanted criminals and missing persons. It said the technology will be deployed at "specific locations," each with a "bespoke watch list" of wanted persons, mostly violent offenders. However, a spokesperson was unable to specify how many facial recognition systems will be used, where, or how frequently. The Met said use of the technology would be publicized beforehand and marked by signs on site.
How would you feel being watched, tracked and identified by facial recognition cameras everywhere you go? Facial recognition cameras are now creeping onto the streets of Britain and the U.S., yet most people aren't even aware. As we walk around, our faces could be scanned and subjected to a digital police line up we don't even know about. There are over 6 million surveillance cameras in the U.K. – more per citizen than any other country in the world, except China. In the U.K., biometric photos are taken and stored of people whose faces match with criminals – even if the match is incorrect. As director of the U.K. civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, I have been investigating the U.K. police's "trials" of live facial recognition surveillance for several years.
A legal challenge against the use of automatic facial recognition technology by police has been launched by a civil liberties group. Automatic Facial Recognition uses CCTV or surveillance cameras to record and compare facial characteristics with images on police databases. Lawyers for Big Brother Watch argue the use of AFR breaches the rights of individuals under the Human Rights Act. The Metropolitan Police says the technology will help keep London safe. The system is being piloted in London, with three other forces - Humberside, South Wales, and Leicestershire - also trialling the technology.