NEWS27 January 2020

ICO calls for facial recognition code as Met Police rolls out

GDPR Legal News Privacy Public Sector UK

UK – The Information Commissioner’s Office has reiterated its call for the government to introduce a statutory code of practice for live facial recognition as the Met Police prepares to roll out the technology in London.

Security camera facial recognition_crop

The Metropolitan Police Service is to begin the operational use of the technology for the purposes of locating wanted individuals.

According to a statement issued by the Met, live facial recognition will be used to help to tackle crime including serious violence, gun and knife crime, and child sexual exploitation. It will be deployed in areas of London that have been deemed ‘most likely’ to locate serious offenders, based on intelligence.

The Met says cameras will be focused on a ‘targeted’ area and will be signposted. The standalone technology is not linked to any other imaging system, such as CCTV. 

Assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: "We are using a tried-and-tested technology, and have taken a considered and transparent approach in order to arrive at this point. Similar technology is already widely used across the UK, in the private sector. Ours has been trialled by our technology teams for use in an operational policing environment."

An ICO probe into police trials of live facial recognition last year found that there was public support for police use of the practice, but that forces need to provide justification for it. On Friday ( 24th January), the regulator said the Met had incorporated its advice into planning, but that it will continue to monitor how the technology is deployed.

However, the ICO again called on the government to establish a binding set of standards on the issue ‘as a matter of priority', adding that a code would "ensure consistency in how police forces use this technology and to improve clarity and foreseeability in its use for the public and police officers alike".