Met Facial Recognition Comes in for More Criticism

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The Metropolitan Police force has been ‘trialing’ its controversial facial recognition cameras again and the latest deployment resulted in just one individual being charged.

The capital’s police have been using these cameras for several years but FOI responses from several forces sent to rights group Big Brother Watch last year revealed the technology is 98-100% inaccurate.

The latest two-day deployment in the Essex town of Romford last week resulted in the arrest of a 35-year-old on suspicion of breach of a molestation order, for which he subsequently received 11 weeks behind bars.

The press release issued by the Met notes a handful of other arrests during the operation, although none of the individuals were charged and these arrests were not due to individuals being detected by the facial recognition software against a pre-defined list of suspects.

In fact, the deployment caused controversy when one man tried to cover his face whilst passing a camera.

According to Big Brother Watch, whose representatives were on-site: “He protested that there was no reason to be stopped as he was surrounded by police, and when he got annoyed he was fined £90 for a supposed public order offence.”

Green Party member of the House of Lords, Jenny Jones, tweeted that she is writing to the Met police commissioner to raise her concerns about the operation.

Big Brother Watch and Jones have mounted a legal challenge to the use of the technology, which is being used in the absence of any formal legal framework to protect innocent citizens’ privacy.

The Met was criticized in December for running a similar operation in central London, claiming that anyone who declined to be scanned wouldn’t be viewed as suspicious — which seems to contradict the approach taken in Romford.

Although it claimed the operation was well publicized, reports suggested the opposite was true, right down to the use of cameras attached to unmarked vans.

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