Authorities are urging police to increase their utilization of backward-looking facial recognition technology in order to locate perpetrators within the next half year.
The Minister of Policing, Chris Philp, has sent a letter to the leaders of law enforcement agencies proposing a goal of surpassing 200,000 searches of static images on the national police database by May through the use of facial recognition technology.
Before the upcoming global AI safety summit at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, he is urging law enforcement to utilize live facial recognition (LFR) cameras on a broader scale.
According to Philp, the improvements will enable law enforcement to “outsmart criminals” and enhance the safety of Britain’s streets.
This week, Essex police announced that they are testing LFR on busy streets in Chelmsford and Southend. The department reported three arrests, including one for suspected rape, following five positive alerts.
According to the organization Big Brother Watch, the use of this technology by law enforcement is deemed as “harmful and controlling surveillance” and poses a significant risk to individual freedoms in the United Kingdom.
Previously, Philp has announced plans to enable police to search for UK passport photos.
He intends to combine information from the national database for police (PND), the passport office, and other national databases to assist law enforcement in quickly finding a match with just one click.
During that period, advocates for civil liberties expressed concerns that the proposed measures would lead to a dystopian reality, resembling the one described in George Orwell’s novel, and would go against the fundamental principles of privacy in Britain.
A group of MPs and peers from different political parties have recently called for an immediate halt to the use of live facial recognition surveillance by both the police and private companies, in response to proposed plans.
The program utilizes facial biometrics and can still function even if some of the face is obscured.
The technology in its real-time form records video of groups of people and cross-references it with a list of wanted individuals, notifying officers if there is a possible match.
65 members of both the House of Commons and House of Lords, including David Davis, former Brexit secretary, Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, Caroline Lucas, Green MP, and Shami Chakrabarti, former Labour shadow attorney general, have expressed their support for putting a stop to the deployment.
31 organizations, such as Big Brother Watch, Liberty, Amnesty International, and the Race Equality Foundation, also supported the joint statement.
On October 6, Davis declared his backing for ending the utilization of live facial recognition. In a tweet, he stated that this technology, which allows for the monitoring of individuals without any suspicion, has not been explicitly approved by parliament and is a form of mass surveillance that is not suitable for Britain.
The Home Office dismisses these worries, stating that the use of facial recognition cameras is closely regulated by laws protecting data, equality, and human rights. It can only be utilized for policing purposes when deemed necessary and reasonable.
The department claims that AI surveillance techniques, including facial recognition, can aid police in accurately identifying individuals wanted for serious offenses, as well as locating missing persons.
The argument suggests that AI has the potential to reduce the workload and expenses of the police, consequently enabling them to have a larger presence in local communities.
The Home Office stated that police will post notifications in locations where they plan to use live facial recognition.
If the system does not find a match on a watch list, the individual’s information will be promptly and automatically removed.
The text mentioned that live facial recognition technology has been effectively utilized, such as during the recent Arsenal vs. Tottenham match at Emirates Stadium where police apprehended three wanted individuals, including one for sexual offenses.
According to Philp, AI technology has the potential to be utilized as a beneficial tool in advancing policing and reducing crime.
The legal foundation for facial recognition, including real-time facial recognition, has been approved by the courts and has successfully aided in the capture of numerous high-profile criminals, such as those involved in murder and sexual offenses.