The College of Policing has published a guide on the use of live facial recognition (LFR) technology to locate those on a watchlist. This will ensure consistency across the board.
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What is live facial recognition technology?
Live facial recognition technology is used by police forces to locate wanted suspects, missing persons and anyone else the police wish to speak to. Cameras are set up in public locations. Digital pictures are then taken of people’s faces in real-time and run through the LFR software. The software extracts facial features from the image and creates a biometric template. This is compared against the biometric templates of those on the police watchlist, which are held on a national database. If there is a possible match, trained personnel are alerted and a further review is carried out.
Life facial recognition technology has become increasingly prevalent amongst police forces in recent years. This has led to the need for official guidance, which has recently been published. However, it should be noted that the guidance only relates to police forces using LFR. It does not apply to private companies, other public sector organisations, or the use of non-live facial recognition technology.
The guidance provides a legal and ethical framework within which LFR can be used by police forces. Amongst other things, the guidance sets out the considerations for the siting and location of cameras. The technology must be targeted, based on intelligence and have a set start/end time. Notice should be given about the use of the technology, unless there is a critical threat that makes it impractical to do so. The images placed on the database should also be reviewed before every deployment.
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Life facial recognition technology is one of a number of modern devices being used by police forces, along with others such as hacking encrypted data. Legislation is struggling to keep pace with these new practices. This complicates matters, as there will always be a question over whether or not authorities acted in accordance with the law.
As specialist criminal defence lawyers, we can examine the actions of the police. If there is any indication of wrongdoing, we will take the appropriate action as your defence lawyers.
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