14-year-old black schoolboy among those wrongly fingerprinted after being misidentified
'Facial recognition technology has misidentified members of the public as potential criminals in 96 per cent of scans so far in London, new figures reveal.
The Metropolitan Police said the controversial software could help it hunt down wanted offenders and reduce violence, but critics have accused it of wasting public money and violating human rights.
The trials have so far cost more than £222,000 in London and are subject to a legal challenge and a separate probe by the Information Commissioner.
Eight trials carried 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 the Westfield in 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”.
The figures did not cover two of the Metropolitan Police’s 2019 facial recognition trials, which will be included in its own review.
The force said eight arrests resulted from the most recent deployment, as a direct result of a flagging system for wanted violent criminals.
“All alerts against the watch list are deleted after 30 days and faces in the video stream that do not generate an alert are deleted immediately,” a spokesperson added.
Big Brother Watch, which obtained the data through a freedom of information request, called for police to drop the technology.'
Read more: Facial recognition wrongly identifies public as potential criminals 96% of time, figures reveal