back to article London's Met Police: We won't use facial recognition at Notting Hill Carnival

London cops will not use controversial and inaccurate facial recognition technology at this year's Notting Hill Carnival – in a departure from the trend over the previous two years. The Metropolitan Police have been using the technology since the 2016 carnival, which takes place on the August bank holiday weekend, despite …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So let me guess, it's going to deployed at all the tube stations that lead to the event?

    So let me guess, facial recognition is going to be deployed at all the tube stations / overground stations that give access to the route of the Notting Hill Carnival, or the stations from which people travel from?

    It's still the "Notting Hill v Chelsea Flower Show" question of where to deploy and the MET has 'chosen' Notting Hill every single time for this trial.

    A face is a face, if this is a trial. If the MET wants to use intrusive tech, it has to be trialled in all areas, to make all sections of society know how uncomfortable it can feel.

    This is supposed to be an event that brings people together, not single them out for vetting 'by association'.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: So let me guess, it's going to deployed at all the tube stations that lead to the event?

      CFS attendees may

      - Call the Met commish on his private number and object

      - stand up and object in parliament / TV studios

      - ask loudly why the officers aren't catching crims somewhere else

      - Call their lawyer to get the footage from the private (ticketed) function erased

      etc.

      NHC attendees

      - are generally too busy enjoying themselves

      So the NHC is easiest option.

      In your face cameras are just to gauge the public reaction as they eventually want to run the software in real time over any available coverage for anything.

      Any perceived stereotyping of CFS attendees is unintentional :)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: So let me guess, it's going to deployed at all the tube stations that lead to the event?

        The false positive rate at the CFS would be much lower, I would guess only a few %

        On the assumption that the "facial recognition technology" is just Constable Savage looking at a monitor

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: So let me guess, it's going to deployed at all the tube stations that lead to the event?

          On the assumption that the "facial recognition technology" is just Constable Savage looking at a monitor

          And Police Constable Pan Am* on the NHC monitors....

          * Possibly obscure Monty Python reference.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So let me guess, it's going to deployed at all the tube stations that lead to the event?

      There is no need to deploy the technology as 99%+ of the attendees will conveniently bring their phones with them, and their phones will happily connect and hence identify themselves to local pico cells.

    3. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      Re: So let me guess, it's going to deployed at all the tube stations that lead to the event?

      "to make all sections of society know how uncomfortable it can feel."

      Either: "You mean it reaches out and touches your face to identify, like my old deaf and blind Gram-ma-ma?"

      Or: "I don't have a criminal history, so there's nothing to feel."

  3. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Yeah but...

    ...they would say that, wouldn't they?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah but...

      You stole my thunder thribble master.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Re: Yeah but...

        And these two comments saved me having to check it wasn't April the 1st.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's what they want you to think.

    A bit like those boxes they have in ISP's.

  5. Wellyboot Silver badge

    2 correct IDs

    >>Moreover, the group's Freedom of Information responses show that the force has only correctly identified two people using the kit - neither of whom was a criminal.<<

    Was that the software sales team attending the carnival??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2 correct IDs

      >>Moreover, the group's Freedom of Information responses show that the force has only correctly identified two people using the kit - neither of whom was a criminal.<<

      Or two Police Officers that retired before charges could be brought?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    does it matter?

    No. Police state, ahoy.

  7. Fading Silver badge

    So they won't be using a

    system with "a 98 per cent false positive rate" - so if it was only 97% they would have used it? How wrong does a system have to be before the MET will roll with it? For all we know though a 98% false positive rate is an improvement on traditional techniques.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So they won't be using a

      It turned out that only 2% of people wearing face mask at the festival where criminals.

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: So they won't be using a

      The "98% false positive rate" is a red herring, unless we also know what the false negative rate was (which we don't, and neither do the cops).

      If you surveille a million people, your system flags 50 of them, then on closer inspection 49 of them weren't who you thought - that's a 98% false positive rate, but it's still a hell of a lot better than trying to check a million faces manually (which would be a 99.9999% false positive rate).

      Without knowing how many "persons of interest" were in the initial sample - which, pretty much by definition, they can't know - we still don't know yet how good the tool is.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: So they won't be using a

        "Without knowing how many "persons of interest" were in the initial sample - which, pretty much by definition, they can't know - we still don't know yet how good the tool is."

        If it was any good, you'd probably know it.

  8. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    In the old days

    They used to have loads of cops with SLR and video cameras on the Westway -but then there were even enough cops for local foot patrols.

    Will they now be reduced to having to take thousands of selfies with obvious perps and ne-er do wells?

    1. Spanners Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: In the old days

      Long ago, I was issued an SLR. 7.62mm calibre and the ability to send bullets through a brick wall or a couple of miles if you pointed it high enough.

      Do the police still use them?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In the old days

        "SLR. 7.62mm"

        I got handed one of those too. Great toy. I used to shoot alongside the 42 Commandos and the Devon police. Unlike the 42nd's the police were crap shots.

        The SLR was even more fun with a Heckler & Koch .22 convertor. Then you could blast away without fear of the bullets going through a brick wall, and you didn't feel so bruised after firing a few thousand rounds.

  9. RobertLongshaft

    And who can't wait for Stab Feast 2018?

    Obviously the police attempting to stop such an event is clearly and obviously racist.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Just like your assumption that Stab Fest 2018 will be committed by black people.

      Get back into your box, Constable Savage.

      1. GX5000
        FAIL

        The Truth is Sadiq Khan't Understand

        Stats, you can run away and babble but in the end, stats.

        After they take away your tweezers they'll come for your suspenders....

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Just like your assumption that Stab Fest 2018 will be committed by black people.

        Maybe it will, maybe it won't, but I think given this years stats for London, we can say most of those stabbed will probably be young black men. Having lived in London for about 20 years, I can't remember a single year when most of the carnivals stabbing victims weren't young black men.

        The carnival causes a spike in stabbings and rapes every time it is held. Any other event triggering as much violent crime and disorder would have long ago been banned. It does raise the question of why this event is allowed to persist when others would not be.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Translation:

    "We'll boil some less sensitive frogs first, and toss the Notting Hill Carnival back in the pot when the water's hotter."

  11. rg287

    It also fails to give the public sufficient notice about the deployment of an intrusive technology, which in some cases might dissuade them from attending the event – particularly if it is to be used at a protest.

    Berry said that it was important that, whatever happened with the trial, the police continued to give notice to the public – so they could decide whether to attend – and urged more, not less, transparency in the face of public pressure.

    Use of facial recognition should not dissuade people from attending - that would give the Police the power to quell peaceful protest before it even takes place.

    People should still attend... wearing Theresa May masks. Ten thousand Theresa Mays marching through London. Do something with that (though given their 98% false positive rate, I suppose the risk is that they might actually identify some of the protestors underneath their masks!).

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Hmm.

      The idea (presumably) is to identify the small minority of football holigan/anarchist types who were banned from their events of choice and who enjoy starting a riot by tossing bricks or molotov cocktails over the heads of peaceful protesters, and using the peaceful protesters as unwilling and unwitting human shields against the police response.

      If the police are simply checking against those people and then doing a stop and search on them to see if they are carring... shall we say contraband? then personally I think that's fine. I think that most of the peaceful protesters who intend on attending a peaceful protest would agree with this too, since nobody really enjoys having molotov cocktails tossed over their heads and it's in everybody's interests to keep peaceful protests peaceful.

      However, if the police are doing it with the intent of keeping lists for a long period of "Citizen 123456 attended a protest about $cause" then I think we can agree that's a serious problem that ought to be dealt with.

      1. teebie

        "if the police are doing it with the intent of keeping lists for a long period"

        Heh, "if"

      2. veti Silver badge

        I think the police will say, quite sincerely, that their only thought is for public safety and they have no intention of keeping files on innocent, law-abiding protesters.

        I also think that no amount of innocent intentions will, in fact, prevent said files from being kept anyway. It's just too easy to come up with reasons to hold on to data, once gathered.

  12. nuked
    Headmaster

    "London cops will not use controversial and inaccurate facial recognition..."

    No, but they'll roll out the uncontroversial accurate version, right?

    Or the iris scanners they now have to supersede the facial scanners?

    Language is a funny thing.

  13. J J Carter Silver badge
    Boffin

    An geneticists in tonight?

    On a serious note, perhaps people-of-colour have a statistically smaller range of facial differences which would allow facial recognition s/w to produce meaningful results?

    1. Spanners Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: An geneticists in tonight?

      I read that PC scanners can only accurately detect white males. As one, does that mean that I am in greater danger of being identified?

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: An geneticists in tonight?

      There's more genetic diversity in Africa than in the whole rest of the world. Humans originated in Africa and everyone else is just overspill.

      Computer recognition, however, is not good at recognising black people... as people.

      Ironically this is a "black box" problem.

      1. teebie

        Re: An geneticists in tonight?

        "Computer recognition, however, is not good at recognising black people... as people."

        Isn't this largely a function of the training sets the computers are given, which is a load of white males.

  14. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    If the police won't be using facial recognition...

    If the police won't be using facial recognition, will be getting Facebook to do it on their behalf?

    Facebook'll be doing it anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If the police won't be using facial recognition...

      That's an interesting point.

      What's to stop Google / Facebook setting up commercial private camera operations?, which capture faces at events like Glastonbury, Notting Hill, that cross-reference (using facial recognition) those captured images to Google / Facebook profiles photos, and then 'conduit' that data, package it, and sell it to advertisers (or Government).

      A sort of "street view" on specific days, to see which of its users attend certain live events.

      If you're carrying an Android mobile, running the Facebook app / Google and have location services on, I suppose you're already giving them this information, but it could be also used as a secondary validation of Facebook accounts to user profile images.

      1. Cederic

        Re: What's to stop Google / Facebook

        GDPR.

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    Funny how they need a "Legislative framework" for people to stop it but, but none to roll it out

    Is it not?

    Hence the lack of any "Legislative framework" for Automatic Number Plate Recognition (and storage)

    Of course if all you need is "Machinchine pings, they's a wron'un" device then job done.

    Like the KGB (and its successors) always said "We may not know what you did this time, but we're sure you've done something sometime, so this is just us catching you."

    Mine will be the one with the old, well thumbed copy of the Gulag Archipelago..

    1. fandom Silver badge

      Re: Funny how they need a "Legislative framework" for people to stop it but, but none to roll it out

      Yeah, how come that things aren't ilegal by default?

      Wouldn't it be easier if everything that's not specifically allowed is forbidden?

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: Funny how they need a "Legislative framework" for people to stop it but, but none to roll it out

        "Wouldn't it be easier if everything that's not specifically allowed is forbidden?"

        That's the UK that is.....

        At least for ingesting any substance. If it's not on the list, then it's banned.

      2. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Funny how they need a "Legislative framework" for people to stop it but, but none to roll it out

        Lets start with 'Walking on the cracks in the pavement' and then move onto 'Loitering with intent to use a zebra crossing'

        Credits to the NTNo'cN crew.

  16. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    "Moreover, the group's Freedom of Information responses show that the force has only correctly identified two people using the kit - neither of whom was a criminal."

    Was one Cyrano de Bergerac, and the other Joseph Merrick?

  17. caffeine addict Silver badge

    Considering how facial recognition software often can't even *see* black faces, let alone identify them, it sounds like the perfect training ground, false positives be damned.

    It's acting on that information in any way other than a friendly "Hi, we're testing this software and it thinks you are Mr Person - would you be willing to show us ID to prove one way or the other?" that's problematic.

  18. C. P. Cosgrove
    Facepalm

    98% failure rate ?

    If I was the Chief Constable of the Met and It was established that one of my departments was funding a system with a 98% failure rate I would be asking questions about how it got approved.

    That's equivalent to buying myself a nice shiny new car for the daily commute and then discovering it only worked on some random seven days in the year. I think I would be back at the dealer's very quickly looking for a full refund.

    Chris Cosgrove

    1. rg287

      Re: 98% failure rate ?

      98% failure rate ?

      If I was the Chief Constable of the Met and It was established that one of my departments was funding a system with a 98% failure rate I would be asking questions about how it got approved.

      I guess that depends on whether the Met have actually paid for the system, or whether the occasions when "the Police" are deploying it is actually a partnership where they're offering the vendor the opportunity to do live-demos and prove/refine the system before any significant investment is made.

      I don't suppose the very first TETRA demonstrators worked especially well either (it's successor is certainly taking a while to iron out the bugs).

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