Police Use of Face Recognition Is Sweeping the UK

A Beyoncé concert, the coronation of King Charles and the Formula 1 British Grand Prix all have one thing in common: thousands of people at the events, all of which took place earlier this year, had their faces seen scanned by facial recognition technology operated by the police. .

Supported by the Conservative Government, police forces in England and Wales are being urged to rapidly expand their use of the highly controversial technology, which has enjoyed worldwide popularity. led to false arrests, misidentifications and derailed lives. The police were ordered to double their use of facial searches against databases by the beginning of next year…45 million ID photos could be open to searches – and police are increasingly working with stores to try to identify shoplifters. At the same time, more regional police forces are testing real-time systems in public places.

The rapid expansion of facial recognition comes at a time when confidence in policing levels is at an all-time highfollowing a series of high-profile scandals. Civil liberties groups, experts and some lawmakers have called for a ban on the use of facial recognition technology, particularly in public places, saying it violates privacy and rights human rights and that it does not constitute a “proportionate” means of finding people suspected of committing crimes.

“In the democratic world, we are currently an exception,” says Madeleine Stone, senior advocacy manager at Big Brother Watch, a privacy-focused group that has called for the ban and an “immediate stop” live facial recognition, a proposal backed by 65 UK lawmakers. The EU, which the UK left in 2016, can ban the use of real-time facial recognition systems, and one of its highest courts has called the technology “very intrusive.” Various US states have banned the police from using this technology.

In England and Wales, police officers can track potential criminals using two main types of facial recognition. First, there are live facial recognition (LFR) systems: these typically include cameras installed on police vans that scan people’s faces as they pass and compare them to a “watch list” of wanted people. LFR technology is deployed for certain large events and announced in advance by the police. Second, there is retrospective facial recognition (RFR), in which images from CCTV cameras, smartphones and doorbells can be fed into a system that attempts to identify the person based on millions of existing photos. Police use of both systems is increasing.

Two police forces in England and Wales – London Metropolitan Police and South Wales Police – have adopted LFR and have been using the technology for several years. (Police in Scotland, where policing is locally superviseddo not use live systems but would apparently increase their use of the RFR). So far this year, the Met and South Wales Police have used LFR on 22 occasions, statistics show. published on their websites.

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