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  1. ITV Report

Calls to stop facial recognition trials as MPs question legality

Credit: ITV News

Authorities should stop trials of facial recognition technology until a legal framework for them is established, MPs have said.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee said the current lack of legislation calls into question the legal basis of the trials.

In a report on the Government's approach to biometrics and forensics, the MPs referred to automatic facial recognition testing carried out by the Metropolitan Police and South Wales Police.

It noted an evaluation of both trials by the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group raised questions about accuracy and bias.

Concerns were also raised that police custody images of individuals not convicted of any crime are not being deleted.

Credit: ITV News

MPs said police forces should give a higher priority in the allocation of their resources to ensure a comprehensive manual deletion process of custody images.

Branding the Government's failure to implement the Forensic Science Regulator Bill "unacceptable", the committee recommended the Home Office should apply for a legislative slot in the next parliamentary session.

The committee set out concerns about the long-term viability of the market for forensic science services and the significant risk this poses to the effective functioning of a criminal justice system.

We support the police as they trial new technologies to protect the public, including facial recognition, which can help them identify criminals and suspects.

The Government believes that there is a legal framework for the use of live facial recognition technology, although that is being challenged in the courts and we would not want to pre-empt the outcome of this case.

However, we support an open debate about this, including how we can reduce the privacy impact on the public.

In addition to existing oversight, the Home Office is reviewing options to simplify and extend the current governance to ensure that as these new technologies are developed we maintain public trust and confidence.

– Home Office spokesperson