South Wales Police to trial facial recognition technology

South Wales Police have confirmed that 50 officers will test a facial recognition app over the next three months.

The app will allow officers to snap a photo of a suspect and analyse it using facial recognition software. Essentially it will become a second set of eyes for the force, and help them identify people that may be on a watch list. 

Reportedly the hardware being used is from the Japanese firm NEC, and the software’s user interface was developed in-house. 

The use of the facial recognition technology has been heavily criticised, especially whilst there are ongoing court cases. 

The human rights group, Liberty, are representing a man who launched a High Court challenge against police force’s using automatic facial recognition – claiming it violates the privacy rights of everyone.

Police and crime commissioner, Alun Michael, stated that the trial of the facial recognition app is necessary in improving efficiency:

“This is about doing more with less after we have lost a third of the money to employ police officers that used to come home from the Home Office and it is absolutely not about Big Brother taking over.”

Deputy Chief Constable Richard Lewis commented:

“This new app means that, with a single photo, officers can easily and quickly answer the question of ‘are you really the person we are looking for?’

“Officers will be able to access instant, actionable data, allowing to them to identify whether the person stopped is, or is not, the person they need to speak to, without having to return to a police station.”

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