Behind the Met’s controversial live facial recognition technology - The Standard podcast

A camera during trials at Scotland Yard for a facial recognition system (PA) (PA Archive)
A camera during trials at Scotland Yard for a facial recognition system (PA) (PA Archive)

Rachael Burford, our Chief Political Correspondent, takes us behind the controversy over the Met police’s use of live facial recognition technology.

The faces of thousands of fans on their way to watch Arsenal v Tottenham were scanned by live facial recognition last month. In a bid to catch criminals and supporters barred from attending games because of their previous behaviour.

Now, the Standard can reveal that this type of technology, which was used by the Met Police at a Premier League football match for the first time, has resulted in three arrests.

The images of tens of thousands of offenders, alleged violent criminals and, for the first time, those with football banning orders, had been put into a “watchlist” database.

However, concerns have been raised over the use of this “Orwellian” technology. Privacy campaigners say by using these methods police are treating football fans like suspects. Claiming “it erodes public freedoms, wastes public money” and is “not an efficient crime-fighting tool.”

When approached with these comments, a Home Office spokesman said: “The Government is committed to making sure the police have the tools and technology they need to keep people safe.”

Writing in the Standard, policing minister Chris Philp defended the use of the controversial technology, He said it would help officers “quickly and accurately identify” those wanted for serious crimes and its use helps “free up police time and resources”.

You can listen to the episode in the player above, find us on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.