Facial recognition ‘too radical’ for police in Scotland

MSPs welcome Police Scotland's U-turn on plans to use live facial recognition software.

Live facial recognition software has raised privacy and human rights concerns. Getty Images
Live facial recognition software has raised privacy and human rights concerns.

MSPs have welcomed a police U-turn on plans to use live facial recognition software.

Police Scotland initially said it would like to use the technology by 2026, before changing tack.

Holyrood’s justice sub-committee on policing has now warned there is no justification for use of the software – which cross-references CCTV images with police databases – in light of privacy and human rights concerns.

A report published on Tuesday as part of the committee’s inquiry into the advancement said the technology was “known to discriminate against females and those from black, Asian and ethnic minority communities”.

The report added: “The use of live facial recognition technology would be a radical departure from Police Scotland’s fundamental principle of policing by consent.”

Police Scotland initially planned  to roll out the software – as detailed in Policing 2026, a ten-year strategy published by the force.

They have since pledged to put the plan on hold and have committed to take part in a wider debate about the implications of the software.

Convener John Finnie said: “It is clear that this technology is in no fit state to be rolled out or indeed to assist the police with their work.

“Current live facial recognition technology throws up far too many ‘false positives’ and contains inherent biases that are known to be discriminatory.”