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Metropolitan Police claims success in use of live facial recognition


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Facial recognition tech at work
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The Metropolitan Police has claimed the successful use of live facial recognition (LFR) in operations around Oxford Circus.

It has made an announcement praising the technology, pointing to three arrests on 7 July as a result of its deployment of the technology.

This comes soon after expressions of concern over the use of LFR by police forces.

The Met said there had been three arrests, two for possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and one on a warrant for assault on an emergency worker, and that the deployment was part of a longer term operation in the area to tackle violent crime.

Its record of the deployment – just the sixth listed since 2020 – shows the LFR took in an estimated 16,500 faces and raised four alerts.

Public engagement

The Met Police added that the deployment was clearly signposted and local neighbourhood officers engaged with the public to hand out leaflets and explain the use of the technology.

It also tested its LFR algorithms with the National Physical Laboratory alongside the deployment with the aim of understanding more about the accuracy and any bias shown in an operational environment. It said this will help inform how it used the technology legally and fairly.

Detective Chief Superintendent Owain Richards, from the Met’s Central West Basic Command Unit, said: “Our use of live facial recognition technology has directly helped us to arrest three wanted individuals and officers have been able to successfully remove them from our streets.

“It is a fantastic result from the deployment and it links to one of the Met’s top priorities of tackling serious violent crime.

“This innovative technology, alongside our officers, enables us to find people that pose a serious risk to our community so that we can keep the people of London safe.”

Past controversy

The technology has raised controversy over recent years, with South Wales Police having become embroiled in a legal case of its use in Cardiff city centre and the Information Commissioner’s Office calling for caution in its use.

In April the biometrics and surveillance camera commissioner expressed concern about points in the College of Policing’s authorised practice document on deployments of LFR.

But its has received previous support from the Home Office, that in 2019 backed trials of its use in policing.

In September of last year the Met Police took a significant step towards the use of retrospective facial recognition with a four-year deal with Northgate Public Services. It contrasts with LFR in inspecting still and video images from a range of crime scenes.


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