Independent review finds Met Police’s use of facial recognition technology failed to meet human rights requirements

04 July 2019

An independent review of the Metropolitan Police’s trial of facial recognition technology has roundly criticised the force for failing to consider human rights impacts and for relying on an “inadequate” legal basis.

The report - commissioned by the Metropolitan Police as part of a trial which included ten deployments across the capital over the last three years – criticises nearly every aspect of the Met’s trial of facial recognition.

The report concludes that:

  • The legal basis on which the Met deployed facial recognition technology was found to be “inadequate” in light of the police’s legal duties under human rights law.
  • It is “highly possible” that the Met’s “trial” deployments of facial recognition technology would not satisfy the key legal test of being considered “necessary in a democratic society” if challenged in the courts.
  • There remains “significant ambiguity” over the criteria and process for compiling suspect “watchlists”.
  • Despite Met claims that the 10 London-based deployments were held on a trial basis, there was in fact no clear distinction between the research objectives of the trial and the operational use of the technology.

Hannah Couchman, Policy and Campaigns Officer at Liberty, said:

“This damning assessment of the Met’s trial of facial recognition technology only strengthens Liberty’s call for an immediate end to all police use of this deeply invasive tech in public spaces.

“It would display an astonishing and deeply troubling disregard for our rights if the Met now ignored this independent report and continued to deploy this dangerous and discriminatory technology. We will continue to fight against police use of facial recognition which has no place on our streets”