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Police use of live facial recognition (2)

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 12th March 2020.

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Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has stated that facial recognition technology will be used for serious crime. However, the MPS Standard Operating Procedures published on 24 January 2020 state that facial recognition watchlists can include anyone deemed “of interest” and people who are not actually wanted for any crime at all.

Could you clarify: (a) what constitutes serious crime (b) whether facial recognition technology will only be used on those wanted for serious crime within this definition, and (c) whether innocent people and those not wanted for serious crime will appear on facial recognition watchlists?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

It is for the Metropolitan Police Service to determine the parameters of the operational use of Live Facial Recognition technology meeting the commitments made in their response to the London Policing Ethics Panel Report and in line with the Standard Operation Procedure. This Procedure is part of a suite of documents, including the response to the London Policing Ethics Panel report, the Equality Impact Assessment, Data and Privacy Impact Assessment and the legal mandate. These set out how LFR can be used. The use-case includes the potential for deployment to find high-risk missing people, for example, which would not linked to serious crime.