Police Scotland Admit to CCTV Facial Recognition Use

Police Scotland Admit to CCTV Facial Recognition UsePolice Scotland has confirmed that it’s using facial recognition technology with CCTV images to help investigations, according to a HeraldScotland article by Magnus Gardham. The disclosure is the result of a Freedom of Information request filed by Alison McInnes, a Scottish Liberal Democrats official.

The FoI compelled Police Scotland to reveal the full extent of the program, which sees mugshots of individuals charged with an offence uploaded to the Police National Database, which spans the whole United Kingdom. Facial recognition technology is then used to match faces with those captured on CCTV feeds, helping the police to track down those caught committing crimes on camera. Police Scotland has done this over 400 times; there are over 300,000 Scots in the database.

McInness expressed concerns about the use of this “intrusive software”, saying she has “real concerns that the privacy of innocent people could be compromised and they could be exposed to the risk of false identification.” But Police Scotland were keen to insist that individuals’ mugshots are removed from the database when they are cleared of charges or when the charges are dropped.

The Police National Database itself has been the subject of controversy lately, with allegations that it contains mugshots of innocent people. Nevertheless, police services in the UK have evidently found it a powerful tool in their investigations. Police Scotland’s use of the system along with facial recognition technology shouldn’t come as much surprise, given that the head of Scotland Yard was recently calling for all citizens to consider installing CCTV cameras in their homes to help further empower police in their use of this kind of technology.

May 26, 2015 – by Alex Perala