London police will deploy live facial recognition cameras

CCTV cameras in London. (Jonathan McIntosh/Flickr)

London's Metropolitan Police Service says it will begin deploying live facial recognition cameras to "locations where intelligence suggests we are most likely to locate serious offenders."

Police say that the cameras will focus on identifying wanted suspects and, potentially, people in need of help.

The camera system is designed to prompt officers when it thinks it's identified a suspect, according to a press release. The images it uses and processes won't be linked to London's ubiquitous CCTV cameras, police said.

At a deployment, cameras will be focused on a small, targeted area to scan passersby. The cameras will be clearly signposted and officers deployed to the operation will hand out leaflets about the activity. The technology, which is a standalone system, is not linked to any other imaging system, such as CCTV, body worn video or ANPR.

"This is not a case of technology taking over from traditional policing; this is a system which simply gives police officers a 'prompt,'" the press release reads. "It is always the decision of an officer whether or not to engage with someone."

The move by London police stands in start contrast to the EU's recent efforts to ban facial recognition outright.

Learn more with Brilliant. Get 20% off today.