Strategic approach needed as police rolls out facial recognition technology

South Wales Police have confirmed their intention to use facial recognition technology – rolling the application out to 50 police officers for an initial three-month trial. This will enable them to take a snapshot and analyse it immediately to answer the pressing question, “Are you really the person we’re looking for?”.

This introduction comes at a time when the effectiveness of facial recognition technology is still being challenged in court.  Despite the positive decision by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary to add a further 20,000 police officers across the country, it is widely understood within senior policing that the benefits to increased quality and efficiency of policing come from a combination of investment in technology and additional new police officers. Senior police executives view the use of biometric technologies as an innovation that can make a transformative step-change in digital policing. 

Jason Tooley, board member of techUK and Chief Revenue Officer at Veridium comments: “As police forces recognise that technology innovation for officers can drive improved policing, there is clearly a need to focus on how the technology can be adopted quickly and how public acceptance for this technology can be increased.  The use of biometrics can support identity verification on-demand and at scale as has been proven in many other countries where officers currently use consumerised technology. ” 

“As part of a wider digital policing initiative, it is imperative for police forces to take a strategic approach as they trial biometric technologies, and not prematurely focus on a single biometric approach. This strategy would take advantage of other biometric techniques such as digital fingerprinting which ensure a higher level of public consent due to the maturity of fingerprints as an identity verification technique.  It’s clear that alleviating privacy concerns need to be prioritised by the police within the overall strategy for using technology in this area. The public need to be able to see the value of the technology innovation through results in order to advance consent and acceptance by citizens.”

“With the rapid rate of innovation in the field, a multi-modal biometric strategy that allows the police to use the right biometric techniques for the right scenario will accelerate the benefits associated with digital policing.”

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