The Metropolitan Police is investing in new facial recognition technology to improve their capabilities in this are before the end of the year. This new technology will enable the police to process historic images from CCTV, social media and other sources to aid in their investigations. However, this is not without its  critics, who warn that there is the potential for abuse and may enable discrimination. Approval of the new tech was made at the end of August and the proposal says that the Met will begin to use Retrospective Facial Recognition (RFR) in the coming months. This is part of a £3 million deal with tech firm NEC Corporation. This is the one of the first times that the use of RFR by the Met has been publicly acknowledge. It is believed that RFR systems were added to the Met between November 2020 and February 2021 and are used by a total of six forces within England and Wales


The development of the Met’s technology will also include Live Facial Recognition (LFR) to be used in public places. The legality of these systems is still in question, many global lawmakers are considering the best way to regulate the technology and several cities have banned the use of this technology altogether.

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has not published any official guidance on the use of RFR, instead reiterating that police forces must comply with data protection laws. The approved proposal stated that the technology will “ensure a privacy by design approach” but on approval a DIPA had not been completed.

The legality of using LFR has been questioned many times. Notably in the UK by the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee, who recommended that it should not be used until concerns about its bias are resolved. In recent cases, the UK’s Court of Appeal found the use of LFR by the South Wales Police was unlawful and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for a mortarium on the use of LFR. However, the Met have insisted they will continue to use LFR alongside their new RFR system, if it is appropriate to do so. Whilst the benefits of facial recognition technological are clear, it is evident that there is a reluctance to the technology and caution needs to be used to ensure its lawful use and the safeguarding or privacy.