Lords’ Committee Raises Concerns Over Police Facial Recognition Surveillance


  • House of Lords committee warns police facial recognition lacks clear legality, calls for stricter oversight.
  • Privacy concerns arise as government considers expanding facial recognition use in England and Wales.
  • National Police Chiefs’ Council defends transparent and proportionate use of live facial recognition technology.

The Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the House of Lords has issued a warning regarding the expansion of live facial recognition (LFR) surveillance by police forces in England and Wales. The committee has questioned the legality of the deployment of this technology and called for increased regulation and independent oversight.

Legal basis and accountability

The committee, in a letter addressed to Home Secretary James Cleverly, expressed concern about the lack of clear legal grounds for the widespread use of live facial recognition cameras. While acknowledging the potential value of this technology in apprehending criminals, the committee emphasized the need for proper scrutiny and accountability.

Peers on the committee highlighted the absence of rigorous standards and regulatory systems governing the deployment of LFR. They noted a lack of consistency in training officers to use the technology, raising questions about its legality and public trust. Baroness Hamwee, the committee’s chairwoman, emphasized the fundamental importance of a clear legal basis for the use of LFR and criticized the current regulatory framework as insufficient.

The committee expressed deep concern over the rapid expansion of LFR without adequate regulation and oversight. Baroness Hamwee questioned the significant disparity between the approach in England and Wales compared to other democratic states, emphasizing the need for future-proofed regulations as technology evolves.

Privacy concerns and criticisms

Privacy campaigners and politicians have previously called for a halt to the use of facial recognition technology by the police, citing concerns about potential human rights violations and discriminatory practices. The civil liberties group Big Brother Watch labeled the tool as “Orwellian” and emphasized the necessity of a clear democratic mandate for any expansion of its usage.

Despite the concerns raised, the government announced last year that it was considering expanding the use of facial recognition surveillance across police forces and security agencies. The Home Office argues that the technology enhances operational efficiency, allowing officers more time for street patrol and complex investigations.

Response from national police chiefs’ council

In response to the committee’s scrutiny, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) welcomed the examination and pledged to consider the recommendations. The NPCC asserted that live facial recognition is consistently used in a proportionate and transparent manner. Individual chief constables are held accountable by police and crime commissioners and mayors who review operational decisions related to LFR.

Lindsey Chiswick, the NPCC lead for facial recognition and the Metropolitan Police’s director of intelligence, emphasized the tool’s role in identifying wanted individuals. Chiswick assured that LFR is deployed transparently, with communities informed about its usage.

As the debate over the use of live facial recognition technology unfolds, striking a balance between effective law enforcement and safeguarding individual rights becomes paramount. The Lords’ Justice and Home Affairs Committee’s call for tightened regulation and independent scrutiny underscores the necessity of a clear legal basis for the deployment of LFR. The government’s consideration of expanding its usage further emphasizes the importance of addressing concerns and ensuring accountability in the application of this evolving technology. The ongoing dialogue between policymakers, law enforcement agencies, and privacy advocates will likely shape the future trajectory of facial recognition surveillance in England and Wales.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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John Palmer

John Palmer is an enthusiastic crypto writer with an interest in Bitcoin, Blockchain, and technical analysis. With a focus on daily market analysis, his research helps traders and investors alike. His particular interest in digital wallets and blockchain aids his audience.

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