Police ethics body to study use of facial-recognition technology

Police ethics body to study use of facial-recognition technology

The London Policing Ethics Panel has made the decision to review the use of facial-recognition technology and its potential implications for the UK’s model of policing by consent.

In February 2018, the Greater London Authority’s Oversight Committee asked Mayor Sadiq Khan to stop the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) from using facial-recognition technology until a proper legal framework was in place and the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) had properly consulted the public.

Earlier, the Met has deployed the tech at various events, including the Notting Hill Carnival, and the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph. The Mayor told the committee that the MPS is working hard to deliver an engagement strategy for future use of facial-recognition technology.

Furthermore, Khan said that he and Deputy Mayor for policing and crime Sophie Linden will work with the MPS on facial-recognition technology as the trials progress. Khan said that he received assurances from the Met that a governance board will be established to oversee this work.

Khan said: “The panel’s view is that digital technologies facilitate higher degrees of surveillance and more extensive data-searching capabilities, and that these have the scope to affect policing by consent.”

The London Policing Ethics Panel, set up by the Mayor, will study the impact of various aspects of digital policing, including facial-recognition technology.

GDS increases use of biometrics in public sector

GLA oversight committee chair Len Duvall said: “The committee was concerned that the Met has been trialling facial-recognition technology, at Notting Hill Carnival for example, without the public really knowing about it. We believed the Met risked losing the public’s trust if it introduced intrusive technology like this, without public consent.

“The Mayor has now said that the London Policing Ethics Panel will look at the technology, which is good news. Policing by consent is an important principle within our society and is not just a tick box exercise. It’s also good to hear the Met is developing an engagement strategy for the use of facial-recognition technology.”