West Midlands Police consider facial recognitition technology
West Midlands Police has confirmed that it has begun exploring the use of facial recognition technology.
Speaking during a Strategic Policing and Crime Board (SPCB), Chief Constable Dave Thompson revealed the force had trialled the technology in a ‘reactive’ way, using it to examine old footage while investigating a case.
However, he admitted that the force was still quite ‘nervous’ about the ethical implications surrounding the use of the technology, and it would still be some time before it was rolled out proactively.
“I think one of the challenges the force faces, particularly as new technology comes online, we want to be in a position where there is a good strong ethical framework for using these technologies that inspire confidence off the public,” he said.
“..we have been a bit nervous around facial recognition and entering this space as a force. We’ve probably been keener for other areas to take the lead when it comes to facial recognition, just simply because there’s only so much we can do at any one time.
“..we have not deployed any proactive, live time facial recognition work in the force. And what I mean by that is that the controversy around some of these sites is that the location, often fixed locations, will have a camera system that is scanning crowds and groups, and maybe using the data matching software to identify somebody that’s subject to intervention.
“Where we have used elements is we did a small pilot around it, reactively, to scan and find features from back records of CCTV. So you can imagine the scenario, the force has a large investigation, we may be trying to track a suspect across a high proportion of imagery that we’ve gathered, or a vehicle. And can we use a machine or scanner software to begin to identify that person. I think that’s ethically less challenging because we know we’re looking for a defined person, it’s already somebody who will probably be suspect to a criminal investigation.”