Police state Britain: Failed facial recognition pilot leads to fine for disorderly conduct. WTF?

Surveillance: This is an unmarked police facial recognition van. If you passed it in the street, would you realise police officers were taking photographs of you in order to match your face with that of a known offender?

Would you want the police to be allowed to scan your face as you walk down the street, minding your own business?

I would not. These authorities are famously irresponsible.

Remember when people started finding out that they had criminal records falsely attributed to them? These crimes turned up when prospective employers carried out background checks and led to innocent people losing jobs for no good reason.

Or how about the DNA database scandal? Genetic material belonging to millions of innocent UK citizens was being kept by the police, and some of it was used in genetic research, without permission. This is an ongoing issue.

Now the police are testing out facial recognition software as a way of tracking down criminals – by taking photographs of innocent people as they walk down the street.

This has proved to be a disaster; instead of catching people who have already committed crimes, it has provoked angry altercations leading to the application of a fine against at least one man for disorderly behaviour.

The incident was recorded and broadcast on the BBC’s Politics Live:

I commented on it at the time the programme went out:

And don’t be convinced by the spokesman’s claim that the trial is intended to ensure that police can protect human rights and safeguard the public at the same time:

Facial recognition scans have wrongly identified members of the public as potentially being criminals in no less than 96 per cent of scans in London so far.

That’s according to figures compiled on eight trials in London between 2016 and 2018. Here‘s The Independent:

“Eight trials carried [out] in London between 2016 and 2018 resulted in a 96 per cent rate of ‘false positives’ – where software wrongly alerts police that a person passing through the scanning area matches a photo on the database.

“Two deployments outside [a] shopping centre in Stratford last year saw a 100 per cent failure rate and monitors said a 14-year-old black schoolboy was fingerprinted after being misidentified.

“Police allegedly stopped people for covering their faces or wearing hoods, and one man was fined for a public order offence after refusing to be scanned in Romford.

“Scotland Yard called the trials ‘overt’ but The Independent found shoppers unaware facial recognition was being used, and campaigners accused police of rolling out the technology ‘by stealth’.”

Despite the obvious failure of this technology, the police are determined to hold on to it – and so is your Conservative government, which is always looking for ways to keep the proles down.

Going back to the Independent article, we have a statement from policing minister Nick Hurd, who said facial recognition has “real opportunities”.

There’s more: “We are not a surveillance state and have no intention of becoming one,” Mr Hurd added. “That means that we must use new technologies in ways that are sensitive to their impact on privacy, and ensure that their use is proportionate.”

Fail. It’s not sensitive to privacy and its use isn’t proportionate. But the Tories – and the police – won’t withdraw it, so we can only conclude that we do – indeed – live in a police surveillance state.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.


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2 thoughts on “Police state Britain: Failed facial recognition pilot leads to fine for disorderly conduct. WTF?

  1. Pamela

    What if it were winter and one genuinely covered up one’s mouth and nose against the cold? I(Many people have to do this to avoid cold sores.) Or were wearing a medical mask to avoid germs due to a compromised immune system?

  2. farmersboy

    My friend failed a DBS check because it said he was a paedophile and had been in prison for eight years. He’s had a colourful past but could prove it wasn’t true, like not being in prison at the time stated. It took months and months to disprove the record by which time the job he’d been accepted for was long gone. They didn’t even apologize just said they’d expunge his record

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