Met facial recognition roll out is yet another infringement of basic rights

The Metropolitan Police today announced they would begin the operational use of Live Facial Recognition (LFR) on the streets of London, despite legal and ethical concerns about the technology repeatedly raised by me in the Assembly, Green Peer Jenny Jones in the House of Lords and by civil liberties and human rights advocates.

Today I said:

“Both the results and the independent academic review of the Met’s trials of facial recognition showed that this intrusive technology was not effective, and used in a way that abused Londoners’ human rights.

“In the Assembly I was given assurance by the Deputy Mayor and Commissioner it would not be deployed unless ethical and legal barriers could be overcome.

“It appears the Met intend to ignore these promises and proceed with yet another deeply concerning infringement of our basic civil liberties.”

I observed and scrutinised the two years of police trials of facial recognition on the streets and have challenged the use of facial recognition since the start. In 2019, after the publication of a damning independent review of these trials, I worked within City Hall to gain assurances against its further use without new regulation coming into force from the MPS Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor for Police and Crime.[1]

The Mayor told me in August 2019, after the London Policing Ethics Panel raised concerns over LFR, that: “We will continue to work closely with the Met and ensure the panel’s recommendations are addressed before further deployment.”

Authors of the Independent Report on MPS LFR Trials, Professor Fussey and Dr Murray, called for all live trials to be ceased until the concerns raised by the trials had been addressed, human rights compliance, and an appropriate level of public scrutiny and debate on a national level. You can read their full report here.

Note 1: I raised the failure of the trials and gained assurances that there would be no further deployment until legal and ethical hurdles had been overcome during the following Assembly meetings:
MQT (Mayor) – August 2019
Police and Crime committee (Deputy Mayor and Deputy Commissioner) – September 2019
Plenary meeting with the MPS (Commissioner and Mayor) – October 2019