Welsh police defend face recognition systems
08 May 2018 20:57 GMT

Welsh police have noted that their face recognition system has made 2,000 positive matches in past nine months, with over 450 arrests, after UK media took aim a its false positive rate at a football match.

Wired UK and The Guardian used public records requests to get statistics on the usage of facial recognition at the event; they discovered that the system generated 2,470 alerts, 2,297 of which were faulty.

The South Wales Police say they arrested "over 450" people at the event thanks to facial recognition technology, but none were the result of false positives. They assure the public that the technology is therefore fit for purpose.

"Of course, no facial recognition system is 100 percent accurate under all conditions. Technical issues are normal to all face recognition systems, which means false positives will continue to be a common problem for the foreseeable future," the police wrote. "However, since we introduced the facial recognition technology, no individual has been arrested where a false positive alert has led to an intervention and no members of the public have complained."

The agency added that it is "very cognizant of concerns about privacy, and we have built in checks and balances into our methodology to make sure our approach is justified and balanced."

The force blamed the high number of false positives at the football final on “poor quality images” supplied by agencies, including Uefa and Interpol, as well as the fact it was its first major deployment of the technology.

Figures also revealed that 46 people were wrongly identified at an Anthony Joshua fight, while there were 42 false positives from a rugby match between Wales and Australia in November.