The London Policing Ethics Panel (LPEP) is set to review the ethical use of facial recognition technology, following the scandal at Notting Hill Carnival last year.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has revealed that the panel will be headed by Dr Suzanne Shale, an ethical policy expert. In addition to Shale, the panel will be comprised of legal, health and moral experts.
Launching the investigation aims to take a broader look at the ethical issues of the Met Police deploying facial recognition technology, as well as digital policing in London as a whole and the benefits it can bring. Additionally the panel will examine the exact use of facial recognition technology by the force, and how they prioritise this in comparison to other methods of policing.
A series of incidents from Notting Hill carnival last year which saw 35 false positives, but no action taken, has driven the panel to launch the review into the technology.
Backing up the use of facial recognition technology, The Mayor of London’s office said that the Notting Hill Carnival and the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph are examples of how the police had used digital technology for surveillance and for gathering information. However, the facial recognition technology used by the police at the Notting Hill Carnival received flak from civil rights groups which alleged incorrect matches and wrong arrest of an individual.
“Policing by consent in a diverse global city raises many ethical challenges, and there are often quite different views about what to do for the best. The Panel’s job is to help find the right course for London, one that helps us be the society we want to be,” Shale said. “We have been impressed by the support and interest the Metropolitan Police Service has shown in the Panel’s work. We are also eager to engage Londoners as we debate difficult issues, and will be looking for innovative ways to do this as we develop our work.”
The outcome from LPEP is expected to advise a list of recommendations for the London Mayor, on how the technology can be deployed to keep the public safe without compromising on their individual rights.