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Crime Solicitors

Police Facial Recognition Technology Risks Mistaken Identity (12 June 2018)

Date: 12/06/2018
Duncan Lewis, Crime Solicitors, Police Facial Recognition Technology Risks Mistaken Identity

In a recent review by The Independent, 98% of people identified through facial recognition software trialled by the Met Police proved not to be the person they were looking for. This poses a real risk of injustice, with people charged with crimes they did not commit.

The Big Brother Watch presented a report on the “dangerous” software to parliament, warning that the technology is not up to scratch and should be scrapped.

Police constabularies state that the use of the software does not prompt an arrest alone and that any image that does not generate a match will be removed from their system. However, Tottenham MP David Lammy expresses concern that the software encourages “conscious and unconscious bias” and that “innocent members of the public are getting harassed by the police in being asked to prove their identity and innocence.”

There are many annual events where the software is employed in a bid to protect the public. It was recently used at the Remembrance Sunday commemorations by Scotland Yard. The technology is able to link to mobiles and fixed cameras live, meaning offenders can be targeted by the police during public events and prevented from doing further harm.

In theory this would benefit the public, however the software is intrusive and arguably distracting police time by generating an inaccurate target. If the public cannot trust that the software works then the reality is that they are being monitored without their permission.

The Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, argues that police forces should be more transparent and provide evidence that the use of the software over other methods is justified. She states that without reassurance, she may have to consider legal action, which the Big Brother Watch supports through its research which claims that it may be in breach of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, the right to a private life. It states:

‘There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.’

Though Police constabularies claim that images that do not produce a match are removed from their data base, thousands remain of the 19 million images stored of those who were acquitted of an accused crime, meaning they are at risk of being targeted by the police again.

The Met Police trial will come to a close at the end of this year, where they will assess the results of the use of Facial Recognition Technology over other less intrusive methods.

Rubin Italia, Director of the Crime department at Duncan Lewis, states:

“The Met should examine the findings of the trial in detail. If the technology is inconsistent, then it should be shelved until such time as it’s improved. If anyone is stopped on the basis of flawed technology then this would be open to legal challenge and risks undermining confidence in the police and the criminal justice system.”

In the extreme scenario that a person is identified as an offender through a false positive and arrested for a crime they did not commit, instructing an expert criminal defence solicitor at the earliest opportunity is imperative. Duncan Lewis crime lawyers deal with full range of criminal offences from police station representation up to Crown Court trials, appeals and judicial review.

Director & Solicitor Advocate, Rubin Italia is recognised by Chambers UK as a Leader in his field, specialising in criminal defence work in a broad range of offences including serious complex crime. He has a niche focus in immigration related fraud, ‘cuckoo smurfing’ money laundering cases, high-value confiscation proceedings and benefit/tax fraud defence work.

Contact Rubin on 020 3114 1129 or via email at rubini@duncanlewis.com.

Duncan Lewis Crime Solicitors

Duncan Lewis has a significant practice defending clients in serious and complex criminal cases, including gun and knife crime. We continue to deal with full range of criminal offences from police station representation up to Crown Court trials, appeals and judicial review.

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