THE MET POLICE'S controversial facial recognition trial in Romford last week resulted in just one person being charged.
The trial, the latest real-world test of the automated facial recognition (AFR) technology that has been in use since 2016, saw rozzers take the kit to Romford in Essex on 31 January to scan the mugs of passersby.
The cameras, which have been slammed by privacy campaigners as "Orwellian", checks faces against a database of people wanted by the Met and the courts.
In a news release put out this week, the Met police fessed that the intrusive trial saw just eight people arrested, of which only one resulted in the person being charged; Scott Russell, 35, was cuffed on suspicion of a breach of a molestation order, and was subsequently charged and sentenced to 11 weeks' imprisonment.
The trial also saw a 15-year-old boy arrested on suspicion of robbery who was "later assessed as no longer wanted for the offence"; a 28-year-old man arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment and kidnapping who was released with no further action; a 17-year-old male arrested on suspicion of discharging a firearm who was released under investigation; two boys, both aged 14, arrested on suspicion of robbery who were released under investigation; and two men aged 46 and 25 arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs were dealt with via a community resolution.
"He simply pulled up the top of his jumper over the bottom of his face, put his head down and walked past," explained Big Brother Watch director Silkie Carlo to The Independent. "There was nothing suspicious about him at all … you have the right to avoid [the cameras], you have the right to cover your face. I think he was exercising his rights."
While the Met is likely chuffed about earning the public purse £90 it wouldn't have otherwise had, the trial's overall success was underwhelming. That's hardly surprising, though, as the AFR tech has previously been proven as wildly inaccurate; last year, the UK's biometrics regulator (yes, this exists) warned that the technology is "98 per cent inaccurate"
Professor Paul Wiles, the biometrics commissioner, warned: "I have told both police forces that I consider such trials are only acceptable to fill gaps in knowledge and if the results of the trials are published and externally peer-reviewed.
"We ought to wait for the final report, but I am not surprised to hear that accuracy rates so far have been low as clearly the technology is not yet fit for use." µ
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