Police to trial facial recognition technology in Romford town centre

Facial recognition technology will be used in Romford town centre in the next few days. Photo: Ken M

Facial recognition technology will be used in Romford town centre in the next few days. Photo: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Police will be trialling facial recognition technology in Romford town centre tomorrow and on Friday.

This will be the final part of the Met’s trial of the technology and will take place on Thursday (January 31) and Friday (February 1).

The MPS committed to carrying out 10 deployments as part of the live facial recognition trial - Eight have already taken place and the final two deployments will take place this week.

As with all previous deployments, the technology will be used overtly with a clear uniformed presence and information leaflets will be distributed to the public. Posters with information about the technology will also be displayed in the area.

The technology is being used in Romford as part of the Met’s ongoing efforts to reduce crime in the area, with a specific focus on tackling violence.

All the faces on the database to be used during the deployment are of people wanted by the Met and the courts.

In order to sufficiently test the technology, the deployment will run for about eight hours each day.

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While anyone who declines to be scanned will not necessarily be viewed as suspicious, officers will use their judgement to identify any potential suspicious behaviour.

If the technology generates an alert of a match, police officers on the ground will review it and further checks will be carried out to confirm the identity of the individual.

While the Met has been developing this technology, engagement has been carried out with a number of stakeholders.

The strategic lead for live facial technology for the Met, Det Ch Sup Ivan Balhatchet, said: “The Met is currently developing the use of live facial recognition and our trial period is coming to an end.

“Following the final deployments this week, a full independent evaluation of the deployments and the technology itself will commence.

“In December 2018 the Live Facial Recognition technology was deployed in Westminster. Two arrests were made as a direct result of the system identifying individuals wanted for violent offences.

“Tackling violent crime is a key priority for the Met and we are determined to use all emerging technology available to support standard policing activity and help protect our communities.

“The technology being tested in this trial is developing all the time and has the potential to be invaluable to day-to-day policing.

“We continue to engage with many different stakeholders, some who actively challenge our use of this technology. In order to show transparency and continue constructive debate, we have invited individuals and groups with varying views on our use of facial recognition technology to this deployment.”