Met police trials live facial recognition tech

Written by Peter Walker

Live facial recognition technology will deployed in locations in Westminster this week as part of the Metropolitan Police Service's (MPS) ongoing trial of the technology.

The mobile deployment and will cover areas in the vicinity of Soho, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square in London.

The MPS explained that it will be used overtly, with a clear uniformed presence and information leaflets disseminated to the public. Posters with information about the technology will also be displayed in the area.

The technology is being used as part of the Met's ongoing efforts to reduce crime in the area, with a specific focus on tackling violence. All the faces on the database to be used during the deployment are of people wanted by the police and the courts.

In order to provide a longer time period to test the technology, the deployment will run for about eight hours on each day.

Anyone who declines to be scanned during the deployment will not be viewed as suspicious by police officers. There must be additional information available to support such a view.

If the technology generates an alert of a match, police officers on the ground will review it and further checks will be carried out to confirm the identity of the individual.

The strategic lead for live facial technology for the MPS, Ivan Balhatchet, said: “The Met is currently developing the use of live facial recognition technology and we have committed to 10 trials during the coming months.

"We continue to engage with many different stakeholders, some who actively challenge our use of this technology,” he admitted.

“In order to show transparency and continue constructive debate, we have invited individuals and groups with varying views on our use of facial recognition technology to this deployment.”