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Police to trial facial recognition technology for second time in Romford town centre tomorrow

PUBLISHED: 13:23 13 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:28 13 February 2019

Three people were arrested following the trial in Romford yesterday. Photo: Ian Davidson

Three people were arrested following the trial in Romford yesterday. Photo: Ian Davidson

Ian Davidson

Live facial technology will be deployed in Romford town centre tomorrow (Thursday, February 14) as the final part of the Met Police's trial of the technology.

Police committed to carrying out 10 deployments as part of the live facial recognition trial. Nine have already taken place and the final deployment will take place this week.

As with all previous deployments - including the one in South Street on January 31 - 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.

The deployment will run for about six hours on the day.

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 deployment was originally due to take place on Friday, February 1 but was rescheduled due to adverse weather conditions.

The strategic lead for live facial technology for the Met, Dete Chf 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 deployment this week, a full independent evaluation of the deployments and the technology itself will commence.

“So far, five arrests have been made as a direct result of the system identifying individuals wanted for violent offences. Two of which were made during the deployment in Westminster in December 2018 and three were made on January 31 in Romford town centre.

“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 technology to this deployment.”

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