Facial Recognition, Surveillance and the Law

Newsletter – 28th May 2019 – Facial Recognition, Surveillance and the law.

Hello ?

London & South Wales Police are trying it out Facial Recognition

There have been many trials of this technology in the past years. The police have always had offenders in mind and now they have the opportunity to scan 100,000s of people at a time and compare them to databases extremely quickly, seconds rather than minutes or hours or even days. 

Private Use

Enrolment for exclusion from Casinos in the UK – Private companies like Trafford Centre, Southern Coop, private companies that all have tried or are trying the technology, these are just a few. We all can do our part reducing the boundaries for crime and offenders to be permitted.

There is an organisation called FaceWatch that companies at the moment can join and share information i.e. images, however, there has to be evidence that the image being uploaded there has been some wrongdoing or suspicion. This is a private database, any member of the public can do a data search and apply to be removed. Of course, as with the police these businesses should provide signs saying that they have cameras recording.

Intelligent data base of more than 10 million photos

The police databases are from the police national database of millions of images they have acquired over the years. Some of these images are of people that have been arrested but cleared of any offence, which has the liberties groups up in arms. You can request your image is deleted if you are not a subject for the police.


Civil liberties groups claim that the technology is intrusive inaccurate and infringes on an individuals right to privacy.

Silkie Carlo – Director, Big Brother Watch. Says there is nothing in UK law that has the words facial recognition. No legal bases and limitation on how the police can use it.

If you refuse to be filmed by covering your face then you could risk receiving a £90.00 fine, the police claim this is disorderly behaviour.

Mapping of your route for the day through camera areas

If we consider terrorism how is the police and Mi5 supposed to shadow the movement of people on the watch list? That’s a lot of manpower required to follow each individual, our security services fight against terror, from large international terrorist groups to radicalised individuals. In the everyday fight against crime. CCTV evidence tracks movements and interaction of people and vehicles.

ANPR automatic number plate recognition has been used for years for vehicles that are uninsured or not worthy of being on the road. No one complained about this data, If your car was stolen and its movement could be tracked to resolve a quick recovery of the vehicle you would be most happy. Just food for thought.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has provided an update on the UK’s approach to counterterrorism and safeguarding national security. In an emotional speech carried out at New Scotland Yard, home to the headquarters of Counter-Terrorism Policing in the UK, the Home Secretary reaffirmed the UK’s leading international role in countering terrorism and keeping people safe from emerging threats.

His speech concluded with, hailing the UK’s strength and unison as being what sets the nation apart from its opponents. He said: “The United Kingdom has a combination of strong point and harmony that sets us apart from our friends and enemies alike. Those enemies range from entire states to lone individuals. They seek to humiliate us, to destroy our democracy and undermine our values and to sow the seeds of division, but they all have one thing in common. They know, deep down, that they cannot beat us because from every challenge we have emerged stronger, more determined, unafraid and, most importantly of all, united.”

Body cameras, we are being videoed every day from police body cameras and vehicle cameras let alone the millions of public and personal video cameras sited around the UK,

Microsoft have refused to put facial recognition in police body cams and vehicle cams in the United States says Brad Smith, President, Microsoft

San Francisco has banned facial recognition in the city, the people need to decide do they want the crime prevention or personal privacy because banning will prevent crime detection. Maybe they have being watch “Persons of Interest”

Here are two documents for those of you that want to delve into this topic further.  Click to read.

Government Documents

Ethical issues arising from the police use of live facial recognition technology

PDF, 658KB, 6 pages

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.


This briefing document outlines some of the ethical issues raised by the use of live (real-time) face recognition technology for policing purposes.

It focuses on the use of this technology in relatively ‘controlled’ environments; namely public spaces where people are gathered and relatively static (for example, concert venues, sports stadiums, public rallies) and those with clearly defined entry and exit points or where people are ‘channelled’ past the cameras.

Published 26 February 2019

Published 22 October 2018

From:Surveillance Camera Commissioner


Data protection impact assessment

MS Word Document, 872KB

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.


It is recommended that data protection impact assessments are carried out when:

  • cameras are added or removed from systems
  • cameras are moved or change position
  • whole or parts of systems are upgraded
  • new systems are installed
  • where systems that include biometrics capabilities such as automatic facial recognition are in use


Police accountability is a big issue these days, how is our public money being spent within the ranks, are we getting value for money, are the police sifting out the bad eggs within their ranks to ensure proper and correct use is made of this technology. Surveillance technology is a huge tool for both the police and the public, answerability should not be overlooked.

Do we want a safer United Kingdom, or do we want to be accountable to ourselves, and the terrorist for example can have free reign to create havoc amongst us?

It’s been said that it is better than “Stop and Search” member of the public, offender especially reoffenders can be identified and then maybe stopped and searched or just questioned. After a crime, people in the vicinity could be approached and asked if they have information instead of waiting for people who are sometimes unsure that a crime was even committed coming forward.

The technology can only get better and it has come on leaps and bounds in the last five years perfection or as close as is what we all strive for in the security industry.

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Marketing Department

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