Police to use facial recognition technology in central London during Coronation

·3-min read
A camera being used during trials of facial recognition technology at New Scotland Yard in 2020 (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
A camera being used during trials of facial recognition technology at New Scotland Yard in 2020 (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Facial recognition technology will be used by police as part of its security operation for King Charles’ Coronation.

Ahead of events on Saturday a ring of steel was being put in place around Westminster Abbey on Wednesday, with roads closed off, to counter any threat from protesters or terror groups.

Scotland Yard said it intended to use facial recognition technology across central London.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “The watch list will be focused on those whose attendance on Coronation Day would raise public protection concerns, including those wanted for offences or have an outstanding warrant for arrest issued by the courts, or those under relevant offender management programmes in order to keep the public safe.”

It comes after a security alert on Tuesday evening when a man was arrested outside Buckingham Palace after shotgun cartridges were allegedly thrown into the grounds.

Deputy assistant commissioner Ade Adelekan, the officer in charge of the operation, added: “We want Londoners and visitors coming to the city to enjoy this historic and momentous occasion safely and securely. On Coronation Day we will have the largest one-day mobilisation of officers seen in decades with just over 11,500 officers on duty.

“The weekend promises to be a spectacular celebration and the Met police is honoured to be policing such an internationally-important event right across the capital.”

Britain’s largest force, welcomed a research report published on Wednesday that found there were minimal discrepancies for race and sex when the facial recognition technology is used at certain settings.

It was also found to correctly identify between identical twins.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Human rights groups Liberty, Big Brother Watch and Amnesty have said the technology is oppressive and has no place in a democracy.

Katy Watts, lawyer at Liberty, said: “We should all be able to live our lives without the threat of being watched, tracked and monitored by the police.

“Facial recognition technology is a discriminatory and oppressive surveillance tool that completely undermines this basic right.

“This report tells us nothing new – we know that this technology violates our rights and threatens our liberties, and we are deeply concerned to see the Met Police ramp up its use of live facial recognition.

“The expansion of mass surveillance tools has no place on the streets of a rights-respecting democracy.”

 (Future Publishing via Getty Image)
(Future Publishing via Getty Image)

There will be more than 29,000 police officer deployments over the coming week in the lead up to Coronation Day and over the rest of the Bank Holiday weekend.

Facial recognition in action (PA)
Facial recognition in action (PA)

The Met said 11,500 officers would be on duty on the day of the Coronation and that the police wanted to ensure that the public enjoyed a “spectacular celebration”.

It said the force had been preparing for months to keep people safe from any threats, but urged the public to report suspicious activity.

It added that deployments would include “officers lining the processional route, managing crowds and road closures, protecting high-profile individuals, and carrying out searches with specialist teams” and that “officers from our dog unit, firearms unit, marine support, and special constabulary” would also be “ready to respond to any incident or crime”.