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Brit cops admit facial recognition trial resulted in, er, zero arrests

SCOTLAND YARD HAS ADMITTED that a trial of facial recognition tech in London resulted in precisely, er, zero arrests.

The one-day pilot, carried out in Stratford, London, was to determine whether the controversial mug-identifying tech could be used as a method of identifying wanted violent criminals and cracking down on attacks.

It looks like the answer to that question is ‘no’, as Scotland Yard has confirmed to The Independent that no-one was arrested – nor seemingly successfully identified – during the trial, which saw the tech stuck onto a pedestrian bridge.

Detective Superintendent Bernie Galopin, the force’s lead for the technology, told the newspaper: “This deployment formed an important part of ongoing trials and a full review of its use will take place once they have been completed.

“It is important to note all the faces on the watchlist used during the deployment were of people wanted by the Met and the courts for violence-related offences. 

“If the technology generated an alert to signal a match, police officers on the ground reviewed the alert and carried out further checks to confirm the identity of the individual. 

“All alerts against the watchlist will be deleted after 30 days and faces in the database that did not generate an alert were deleted immediately.”

Hannah Couchman, a policy officer at anti-surveillance org Liberty, monitored the trial from the Met’s operation room – and said she only saw one “match” in around two hours. 

“The alert came up on the computer screen and it seemed quite clear to me and my colleague that there wasn’t a great deal of similarity between the live image and the ‘probe’ image,” she told The Independent, which earlier this year revealed that the Met’s software was returning “false positives” in 98 per cent of alerts.

“We had been assured by the Met that where an alert comes up there has to be that human interaction where an officer makes a verification as a human being and says ‘that looks sufficiently similar for us to intervene’.

“We didn’t see that happen – we saw an immediate radio out with a description and by the time I walked out on the bridge there were already two officers who had taken this man to one side.”

Earlier this year Liberty backed potential legal action against South Wales Police’s use of facial recognition tech. Cardiff resident and ex-Lib Dem councillor Ed Bridges claims his face was scanned at a peaceful anti-arms protest and while doing his Christmas shopping.

“Police in my home city of Cardiff are using facial recognition technology to scan and store the faces of thousands of people as they go about their everyday lives,” he said.

“They’ve been using this intrusive surveillance on shoppers, football fans and even peaceful protesters – without consulting the public or asking for their consent.”

The Independent notes that Scotland Yard had promised that the seemingly-unsuccessful trial would be “overt”, and had pledged that members of the public passing the cameras would be handed leaflets and talked to by police.

However, the newspaper says it “did not observe any information being proactively given out.” To the surprise of no-one. µ

Further reading

Source : Inquirer

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