UK Home Secretary supports automated facial recognition technology

Latest reports suggest Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s backing to police trials with the help of facial recognition cameras. In his statement Javid commented that the surveillance software, whose main purpose was to spot suspects in public spaces was advantageous to the police force in solving crime.

However, civil campaigners have criticized the technology for being inaccurate, especially in identifying people belonging to the ethnic minority group or even while identifying blacks.  Reports cited, the surveillance software of being a subject of a legal challenge. Moreover, critics have highlighted the fact that there is no specific regulation in how the police use the software to gather or to manage the data.

The technology has been helpful in spotting suspects in public spaces, and has been trialed by several forces, including the Met.

Previously the system has been tried at public events such as festivals, parades and at football matches. With the help of high-definition cameras, the technology helps in detecting faces in addition to comparing them with existing police photographs and mugshots from past arrests.

 

In his recent announcement at the launch of a computer technology which was directed in helping the police fight against child abuse, the 49-year old secretary commented that it was right for the forces to “be on top of the latest technology”.

 

Moreover, he also added; “I back the police in looking at technology and trialling it and… different types of facial recognition technology is being trialled especially by the Met at the moment and I think it’s right they look at that,”

He however also suggested that a long term use of the cameras would require legislation. “If they want to take it further it’s also right that they come to government, we look at it carefully and we set out through Parliament how that can work,” he commented.

The Home Secretary’s comment came in the wake of the fact that the police were given a new set of technological tools which were used to tackle incidence of online child abuse. As per reports from the Home Officer the three new tools will also accelerate investigations and will curb the number of indecent images of children.

Allegedly the technology costs £1.76m and is designed to improve the Child Abuse Image Database of a million images. With the help of the new technology the process of analysis will also speed up to 30 minutes, when it usually took 24 hours for police to search for an indecent image from the database of hard drive.

As quoted by Javid, the new technology was ‘game changing’ in order to protect victims and bring justice to perpetrators.