Facial Recognition Technology Being Tested On Christmas Shoppers In London

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Image credit: UK Metropolitan Police

As shopping for the Christmas is really picking up, the crime rate is equally on the increase. Hence the live facial recognition deployment scheduled for the 17th and 18th of December by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

The ongoing trial of the technology is to cover major shopping malls in the vicinity of Soho, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square in London. The technology is being used in Westminster as part of the Met’s ongoing efforts to reduce crime in the area with a specific focus to spot wanted criminals.

As with previous deployments, the technology will be used with a clear uninformed presence and information leaflets will be disseminated to the public as well as posters about the technology.

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Deployment Strategy:  cameras are fixed to street lights, or deployed on vans, with accompanying software to measure the structure of passing faces. The image scan is then compared to a database of police mug shots that will prompt officers to examine the individuals and decide whether or not to stop them.

However, anyone who declines to be scanned during the deployment will not be viewed as suspicious by police officers.

 

According to Met, this technology has since been used at large events in 2016 and 2017 as well as Remembrance Day Services last year. “We have committed to ten trials during the coming months.” Says, Ivan Balhatchet, the strategic lead for facial technology for the MPS.

And this year, the technology is deployed to scan the faces of shoppers in all major shopping areas in London come Monday and Tuesday. “We are now coming to the end of our trials when a full evaluation will be completed”, Says Ivan Balhatchet, the strategic lead for facial technology for the MPS.

Met’s developing technology has been carried out with a number of stakeholders. But it has also invited individuals and groups with varying views to make their constructive inputs.