The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) welcomes the report published today, Wednesday 29 March, by the London Policing Ethics Panel regarding the force’s trial of Live Facial Recognition Technology (LFR).
Since 2016, the MPS carried out 10 trials of LFR technology across London with the most recent being in Romford Town Centre in mid-February. In the final LFR trials, the watch-list only contained images of individuals wanted by the Met and the courts for violent related offences. This led to a number of arrests based on positive identifications.
All deployments of the technology were used overtly. Information leaflets were handed to members of the public, posters were placed in the area and officers engaged with members of the public to explain the process and technology.
The MPS trial process has now come to an end and the findings of this report will help inform the MPS in deciding whether to adopt this technology in the future.
The report published by the Ethics Panel today follows an extensive review of the MPS' use of the technology during the trial period. It concludes that further use of the technology would be supported providing the following conditions are met:
1. The overall benefits to public safety must be great enough to outweigh any potential public distrust in the technology
2. It can be evidenced that using the technology will not generate gender or racial bias in policing operations
3. Each deployment must be assessed and authorised to ensure that it is both necessary and proportionate for a specific policing purpose
4. Operators are trained to understand the risks associated with use of the software and understand they are accountable
5. Both the MPS and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime develop strict guidelines to ensure that deployments balance the benefits of this technology with the potential intrusion on the public
Detective Chief Superintendent Ivan Balhatchet, who has led the MPS’s LFR trials, said: "We welcome the report published by the Ethics Panel which took evidence from a sample of Londoners and highlights important views on the use of this technology.
"We are pleased to see that more than half of those who completed the survey felt that the use of LFR is acceptable and would make them feel safer at an event where the technology was deployed. However we fully accept that views vary amongst different community groups and some have concerns regarding their privacy.
"Overall the report makes recommendations on additional conditions the MPS may wish to adopt to ensure that any future deployments are proportionate and necessary.
"We want the public to have trust and confidence in the way we operate as a police service and we take the report’s findings seriously.
“The MPS will carefully consider the contents of the report before coming to any decision on the future use of this technology.”