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London Metropolitan Police Hails Facial Recognition Surveillance

London Metropolitan Police Hails Facial Recognition Surveillance

Apr 8, 2024

London Metropolitan Police Hails Facial Recognition Surveillance

The Metropolitan Police's use of live facial recognition technology has been hailed as the "most significant advancement in crime detection since DNA analysis." Met’s director of intelligence, Lindsey Chiswick, in an interview with The Times, described the technology as a "game-changer," reporting an arrest every two hours for crimes such as rape, burglary, and robbery since its implementation in April of the previous year.

The UK government has released a policy statement outlining a national facial recognition strategy, expected to be released in May or June, as confirmed by a Whitehall source.

Live facial recognition technology works by scanning faces through cameras mounted on police vans, checking them against a wanted list and alerting officers to any matches. The Times' analysis indicates that since its inception, the technology has been deployed 62 times, leading to 152 arrests.

Privacy campaigners have raised concerns about the technology. Big Brother Watch has criticized it as a threat to public privacy and anonymity. The Met has responded, claiming that biometric data of individuals not on the watch list is deleted immediately.

Chris Philp, the minister for policing, has stated that £230 million is set to be invested in police technology, including the expansion of facial recognition vans, over the next four years. Additionally, supermarkets have begun paying the police to run CCTV images of shoplifters through the Police National Database using the technology.

The Met and South Wales Police are currently employing live facial recognition, with all police forces having access to retrospective facial recognition. Furthermore, early trials of "operator-initiated facial recognition" are underway, allowing officers to match individuals to the national database using a mobile app.

Originally reported by The Times


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