Commitment to facial recognition technology reaffirmed as report finds tech does not breach equality requirements
South Wales Police Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan has today reaffirmed the force’s commitment to the use of facial recognition technology to keep the public safe.
A series of trial deployments and the testing and evaluation of data has been carried out and confirmed that the responsible way in which the technology is used by South Wales Police does not discriminate on the grounds of gender, age or race.
The Court of Appeal judgment highlighted
A previous Court of Appeal judgment highlighted areas which needed to be explored and resolved, including our equality duty. This work has been completed and the results of the independent evaluation show that there is no risk of the technology causing a breach of equality requirements through bias or discrimination. The report by the National Physical Laboratory was published today.
Deployment of live facial recognition technology will now resume.
Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan
Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan, who is also the national policing lead on biometrics, said:
“My priority will always be to protect the public while relentlessly pursuing those people determined to cause harm in our communities. It is important to use new technology to help us achieve that.
“It is right and proper that our use of technology is subject to legal challenge and scrutiny and the work that has been carried out to scrutinise and test this ground-breaking technology gives me confidence that we are meeting our equality obligations.
“The study confirms that the way South Wales Police uses the technology does not discriminate on the grounds of gender, age or race and this reinforces my long-standing belief that the use of facial recognition technology is a force for good and will help us keep the public safe and assist us in identifying serious offenders in order to protect our communities from individuals who pose significant risks.
“I believe the public will continue to support our use of all the available methods and technology to keep them safe and thanks to the work of the National Physical Laboratory and the results of its independent evaluation I believe we are now in a stronger position than ever before to be able to demonstrate that the use of facial recognition technology is fair, legitimate, ethical and proportionate.”
South Wales Police remains completely committed
South Wales Police remains completely committed to the careful development and deployment of facial recognition and is proud of the fact that there has never been an unlawful arrest as a result of using the technology in South Wales in a live environment.
Prior to the Court of Appeal challenge, live-time deployments of facial recognition in the force area resulted in 61 people being arrested for offences including robbery violence, theft and failure to respond to court warrants. The deployments took place at events ranging from major sporting and public events in Cardiff and Swansea to supporting operations to tackle local criminality.
Since the legal challenge we have seen the development of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s Code of Practice and the College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice which sets out our obligations in the use of live facial recognition technology.
Mr Vaughan added:
“There was nothing in the Court of Appeal judgment that fundamentally undermined the use of facial recognition to protect the public and I am pleased that the work that has been carried out has given us confidence in meeting our public sector equality impact obligations and strengthened the operational policies and guidance we have in place to withstand the most robust legal challenge and public scrutiny.”
The full results are presented in the NPL’s commissioned report: ‘Facial Recognition Technology in Law Enforcement Equitability Study’
Further information about the testing can be found in the Test Strategy for Facial Recognition Technology in Law Enforcement Equitability Study.