UK police to use face recognition at carnival
07 August 2017 19:19 GMT

London's Met Police will use facial recognition software to scan thousands of Notting Hill Carnival-goers this year, but privacy advocates have complained of potential racial profiling.

The Met trialled the system last year, but it failed to pick out any suspects. As facial recognition technology continues to improve at a rapid pace, the force believes it has the potential to provide a powerful new tool to law enforcement. Only images that come up as a match with a wanted offender will be retained by police, the Met said.

According to The Guardian, Martha Spurrier, the director of Liberty, said:

“This intrusive biometric surveillance has no place at the Notting Hill carnival. There is no basis in law for facial recognition, no transparency around its use and we’ve had no public or parliamentary debate about whether this technology could ever be lawful in a democracy.

Stafford Scott, of the anti-racism charity the Monitoring Group, added:

“It is racial profiling. They are coming and putting everyone’s face in the system. A technique they use for terrorists is going to be used against young black people enjoying themselves.

In a statement explaining its plans, the Met said:

“The technology involves the use of overt cameras which scan the faces of those passing by and flag up potential matches against a database of custody images. The database will be populated with images of individuals who are forbidden from attending carnival, as well as individuals wanted by police.”

The Met trialled the system last year, but it failed to pick out any suspects. As facial recognition technology continues to improve at a rapid pace, the force believes it has the potential to provide a powerful new tool to law enforcement. Only images that come up as a match with a wanted offender will be retained by police, the Met said.