While AFR tech has been trialled by a number of UK police forces, this appears to be the first time it has led to an arrest. South Wales Police didn't provide details about the nature of the arrest, presumably because it's an ongoing case. Back in April, it emerged that South Wales Police planned to scan the faces "of people at strategic locations in and around the city centre" ahead of the UEFA Champions League final, which was played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on June 3. On May 31, though, a man was arrested via AFR. "It was a local man and unconnected to the Champions League," a South Wales Police spokesperson told Ars.
Police have used facial recognition technology to arrest a man for the first time in the UK. The arrest was made May 31 but police didn't release many details, probably because the investigation is ongoing. South Wales Police have been trialling the technology, known as AFR (Automatic Facial Recognition), for the past 18 months. And UK police have been testing facial recognition technology for a while, raising privacy and security concerns among civil rights organisations and members of the public. At the end of May, law enforcement announced a partnership with the company NEC to test AFR during the Champions League finals week in Cardiff.
Police in Cardiff will use facial recognition to track the 170,000 football fans expected to descend on the city for the Champions League final. The Welsh capital is gearing up to host the biggest crowd it has ever welcomed for the June 3 match when Real Madrid will take on Juventus at the Millennium Stadium. South Wales Police has been given £177,000 ($230,000) to pilot the facial recognition technology, which will monitor people on pre-determined'watch lists' These watch lists may include dangerous wanted or missing persons. Facial recognition identifies people by analysing the shape of a person's face. Each face has approximately 80 unique nodal points which distinguishes one from another.
At the end of each summer for the last 14 years, the small Welsh town of Porthcawl has been invaded. Every year its 16,000 population is swamped by up to 35,000 Elvis fans. Many people attending the yearly festival look the same: they slick back their hair, throw on oversized sunglasses and don white flares. At 2017's Elvis festival, impersonators were faced with something different. Police were trialling automated facial recognition technology to track down criminals.
When Wales takes on Ireland in the Six Nations rugby championship Saturday, Big Brother will be watching. Fans filing into the stadium in Cardiff will be scanned with facial recognition software as part of a police trial of the technology. Should any of their faces match a database of potential suspects, officers will be standing by, ready to swoop. It's the kind of indiscriminate mass surveillance that would be expected, in ordinary times, to be the subject of fierce debate in the U.K., as journalists and politicians fought over the proper balance between privacy and security. Instead, trial runs like the one in South Wales are taking place largely unchallenged by parliament.