South Wales Police’ Use of Facial Recognition Produces Mixed Results

Biometric facial recognition technology has helped South Wales Police to make 2,000 positive matches over the past nine months, leading to over 450 arrests, the police force has announced. But it isn’t clear that the technology used in the field is quite so effective.South Wales Police' Use of Facial Recognition Produces Mixed Results

In a statement, SWP explained that it is using two biometric identification solutions, AFR Identify and AFR Locate. The former lets officers load images of persons of interest and match them against the 500,000 mug shots of individuals held in custody, while the latter applies facial recognition technology to live CCTV feeds with the aim of matching faces against criminal databases and watch lists.

In celebrating its success with the biometric technologies, SWP suggested that it’s the AFR Identify system that helped to lead to the bulk of the arrests made, while AFR Locate has produced a number of false matches, with officers disregarding its alerts in “the majority of cases”. If they do intervene and find that it is the result of a false match, they explain what has happened to the wrongly flagged individual and “invite them to see the equipment” used. So far, South Wales Police appear to have only disclosed one arrest made using AFR Locate, though it’s possible there have been many more that have not come to light.

In any case, SWP insists that since it began using facial recognition technology, “no individual has been arrested where a false positive alert has led to an intervention and no members of the public have complained.” As such, the force would seem to have plenty of slack to continue exploring the benefits of the technology.

May 8, 2018 – by Alex Perala