Global progressive policing - To register a FREE account Click here

Spotlight On: Facial recognition technology

Policing Insight has over a thousand in depth articles on a wide range of policing issues. SPOTLIGHT ON is a new series which groups articles under one subject heading allowing you quick and easy reference when you need it. Here, we tackle facial recognition technology which recently hit the headlines raising questions and concerns as to its role in policing.

Please note: The articles linked to below may be subscriber access only. If you don’t have a subscription you may qualify for FREE subscriber access if your organisation has purchased an organisation wide subscription – just register an account with your work email address to find out and your account will be automatically upgraded to subscriber access. To find out more about purchasing a subscription for your organisation, please email [email protected].

During a recent session of the Home Affairs Committee’s Policing for the future inquiry, MPS Commissioner Cressida Dick highlighted the pace of technology and the need for a ‘great deal of quick and hard work’ on the ethical and legal issues that the data age poses law enforcement. When asked for one example of what was difficult to deal with at the moment. the Commissioner responded, “facial recognition.”

She added: “The ability of the law to keep up with that and also for those who hold us to account to be able to do that in a meaningful way in the absence of really dynamic ethical discussions and indeed legal frameworks is a real challenge for us. I do not have all the answers or in fact many of the answers to this.”

Technology is outpacing the law makers and whilst policing doesn’t want to miss out on its potential and indeed even risks being criticised for doing so, it leaves law enforcement in an ethical and legal limbo. We ran a series of articles offering a range of insight and perspectives on the issues surrounding facial recognition technology.

Elizabeth Denham: ICO raises concerns over transparency and governance of facial recognition technology

In her blog on facial recognition technology (FRT) and law enforcement: Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham raises concerns over the transparency and governance issues surrounding law enforcement’s use of the technology. She warns that FRT is a step change in how people are monitored and can be intrusive. Unless the public understand and trust the reasons for its use, the potential public safety benefits may not materialise.

Big Brother Watch

Big Brother Watch: Face-off – the lawless growth of facial recognition in UK policing

The Information Commissioner’s concerns are mirrored in Big Brother’s report ‘Face-Off, the lawless growth of facial recognition in UK policing’. The report caused controversy and concern in equal parts. It argues that facial recognition is a reality in UK policing despite the lack of any legal basis for it or parliamentary scrutiny. It draws on data from three forces using the technology, revealing that the overwhelming majority of police ‘matches’ using automated facial recognition software are inaccurate.

Carl Gohringer: False positives and what the statistics actually mean

In ‘False positives: What the facial recognition statistics really mean‘, Carl Gohringer, CEO of facial recognition company, Allevate, offers a robust response to Big Brother Watch’s findings. In his detailed blog, Carl Gohringer explains how the technology works, what the figures mean and how they can be misconstrued. With the controversy surrounding the use of AFR technology, the answer to accurately identifying the ‘face in the crowd’ may lie with the use of super recognisers. Former DCI and now CEO of Super Recognisers International Mike Neville explains the role of super recognisers and the value they can add to CCTV imagery.

Professor Martin Evison: Millions of mugshots digitised, but the tech is poor

The police have accumulated and digitised millions of images of faces, but questions remain over how to search them, and how long to keep them. In his article Professor Martin Evison of Northumbria University outlines the problems now technology has ‘shone its light into the dingy world of the mugshot’. He points to the dangers associated with the automatic computerised searching of CCTV video streams for people depicted in arrestee photographs and asks, should the mugshot databases be purged in much the same way that DNA and fingerprint ones are?

NICE_CCTV imagery

Richard Perkins: The CCTV challenges facing forces

With a greater move towards expanding CCTV coverage in evidence across forces and their partner agencies, NICE’s Richard Perkins explains the challenges of optimising the future use of CCTV, exploiting opportunities in interoperability, biometrics and artificial intelligence. He talks of the need to standardise, modernise and demonstrate the value of CCTV and ends by adding that the UK is on the ‘cusp of cracking the CCTV conundrum’.


More articles relating to facial recognition technology

Further to our own articles, Policing Insight has a valuable database of external resources via our Media Monitor service. We summarise a few example links below but for a full list, please visit Policing Insight’s Media Monitor page and refine the search results using subject filters such as ‘Facial recognition’ or ‘CCTV’.

Why I’m challenging Cardiff police on their invasive facial recognition technology
As ever-more invasive technology develops, it’s more important than ever that we’re consulted on the tools police use
Huffington Post UK

UK police use of facial recognition technology a failure, says report
Civil liberties group says systems used by Met and South Wales police are wrong nine times out of 10
The Guardian

Police defend facial recognition technology that wrongly identified 2,000 people as potential criminals
A police force has defended its use of facial recognition technology after it was revealed that 2,000 people at the 2017 Champions League final in Cardiff were wrongly identified by the software as potential criminals.
The Telegraph

South Wales Police under fire for using facial recognition technology against protesters
South Wales Police have been accused of breaching civil liberties by using facial recognition technology (FRT) at an arms trade protest in Cardiff. The force used the controversial technology during protests at the Defence Procurement Research Technology Exhibition (DPRTE) on 27 March.
The Canary

Facing fears: Should facial recognition technology be installed in railway stations?
German authorities are testing facial recognition software at Berlin’s main rail station, in an attempt to increase security. Joe Baker asks whether the installation could be helpful or harmful to rail passengers.

Few Rules Govern Police Use of Facial-Recognition Technology
They call Amazon the everything store—and Tuesday, the world learned about one of its lesser-known but provocative products. Police departments pay the company to use facial-recognition technology Amazon says can “identify persons of interest against a collection of millions of faces in real-time.”

Amazon defends providing police facial recognition tech
Amazon has defended working with US police forces to provide facial recognition technology, amid concern from civil rights groups.

You must be registered and logged in to post a comment