Met Police defends facial recognition trials despite woeful accuracy rate

The head of London’s Metropolitan Police says the force will continue to trial facial recognition-enabled cameras, despite their overwhelming inaccuracy in public situations.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said that although the AFR tech isn’t leading to many arrests, the Met has a responsibility to the public to test the new tech tools at its disposal.

“It’s a tool, it’s a tactic. I’m not expecting it to result in lots of arrests,” she admitted to a hearing at the London Assembly (via The Register) this week.

The comments come as critics of the system point to an overwhelming false positive rate of 98%, according to figures released last month. Indeed with the tech only making two accurate matches, is it really worth the overwhelming invasion of privacy alleged by campaigners? Apparently so, the commissioner says,

She believes the tech, which is also being used by other forces in the UK, can help identify perpetrators of serious violent crime and, on that basis, would have the public’s backing. Although we don’t recall being asked about it, do you?

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Commissioner Dick added: “I am completely comfortable [with its use] and we’re going to carry on with the trial.

“If there’s a technology that we can use lawfully – which we can, this is one – and is available, which we are trialling with massive safeguards… [and there is] the notion that that technology might be used in limited circumstances to identify against a small list of wanted offenders for serious violence, [then] I think the public would expect us to be thinking about how we can use that technology, seeing if it’s effective or efficient for us. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

According to the commissioner, Met Police lawyers are paying close attention to the use of the tech to ensure the trials are ‘lawful and appropriate’. However, she failed to address the concerns over people being falsely identified by the fledgling technology.

A review of the trials will be published shortly.

Are you comfortable with automatic facial recognition tools being used around the UK? Or do you think it should be something the public gets an actual say on? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

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