UK biometric commissioner slams police for face recognition at carnival
25 August 2017 12:44 GMT

Paul Wiles, UK Biometrics Commissioner has spoken out over the use of facial recognition rechnology at the Notting Hill Carnival.

In a public statement, Wiles said that while this technology has the potential to be a really useful crime fighting tool, that "we are not there yet".

"It [face recognition] needs to be properly tested and evaluated if it is going to be effective and it will need to be handled carefully by the police and the government if it is going to be trusted by the public".

He added that tests of facial matching for spotting individuals in large crowds have so far had very poor success – hence the Metropolitan Police’s trial.

"It is good that they have made their trial public but they must carry out a proper evaluation and publish the results".

Wiles also said that the government needs to create a legislative framework for the use of facial recognition technology, with independent oversight to provide public assurance, as it has done for DNA and fingerprints.

The criticism echoes that of his predeseccor, the late Alastair MacGregor, UK Biometrics Commissioner. 

MacGregor outlined at the Biometrics 2015 conference in London that he awaits the result of a government review into procedural use of facial recognition, after raised concerns over the police’s use of facial databases. He had revealed that some 18 million images had been uploaded to a police database – including some people who had never been charged.