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Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

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James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry. James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
May 5, 2023

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Facial recognition

Met Police announces intention to use live facial recognition at Coronation

The Met Police has announced its intention to use live facial recognition (LFR) technology as part of its security operation for the Coronation of King Charles III on 6 May.

The operation, known as Golden Orb, will be one of the largest operations the Met has led, with more than 29,000 officer deployments over the course of the build up to Coronation Day and the Bank Holiday weekend.

FacialRecognition-AI-Camera-Scharfsinn-AlamyStock-23The Met Police issued a statement on its website on 3 May outlining its intention to use LFR in central London.

It says the watch list will be focused on “those whose attendance…. would raise public protection concerns, including those wanted for offences or have an outstanding warrant for arrest issued by the courts, or those under relevant offender management programmes in order to keep the public safe”.

LFR has been used previously by the Met, but this is likely to be the biggest operation the force has ever used the technology in.

On an advice page explaining its use of LFR, the Met says that cameras are focused on a specific area, with images streamed directly to a system that contains a watch list.

Within its Standard Operating Procedures, it is stated that a person’s biometric data will be “immediately automatically deleted” if the LFR system doesn’t generate an alert showing as a match to the watch list. In accordance with the Data Protection Act, all CCTV footage is deleted after 31 days as standard.


READ: From coronations to corporations: The hidden nuts and bolts of major event security planning


“Unprecedented scale of use”

Speaking to The Guardian, Pete Fussey, who advises the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner on human rights and ethics, said that it would “likely be the biggest live facial recognition operation ever conducted by the MPS, and probably the largest ever seen in Europe”.

LFR is seen as a valuable tool in fighting crime and support police officers locate those on watch lists – particularly in crowded spaces. Around 1.2 million people are expected to line the streets of London on Coronation Day.

Organisers of the Paris Olympics have also announced their intention to use AI-based facial recognition software to help monitor crowds and detect suspicious or “abnormal” activity.

Officers from the Met’s dogs unit, firearms unit, marine support and Special Constabulary will also be on duty throughout the day.

Privacy campaigners have rallied against the announcement, having continually called for the UK Government to ban police use of live facial recognition.

On the Coronation, Big Brother Watch’s Legal and Policy Officer, Madeleine Stone, said: “The hundreds of thousands of innocent people attending this historic event must not be treated like suspects in a lineup and subjected to biometric police identity checks. The use of live facial recognition would have a serious chilling effect on the right to free speech on a day when thousands will be considering celebrating or protesting.”

“Analysis of the Met’s own figures show that 86% of facial recognition flags are inaccurate. If this dangerously inaccurate technology is deployed at the Coronation it is unlikely to have any policing benefits but would have a serious cost to police resources and the public’s privacy rights, meaning many people will be wrongly flagged as criminals and forced to prove their innocence.”

 

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