back to article Romford Station, smile! You're in London cops' final facial recog 'trial'

London cops' controversial public trial of facial recognition technology is coming to an end this week in Romford – and campaigners hope it will be the last time the force uses the kit. The Metropolitan Police have been using automated facial recognition (AFR) technology since 2016, but its decision to do so in the absence of …

  1. Bogle

    Orwell ain't seen nothing yet

    Given the plod's continuing abuse of the DNA data they've collected and refused to delete, is anyone expecting anything other than Stazi levels of boots stomping on faces forever.

    Hold on, if the boots are stomping on the faces, doesn't that ruin the facial recognition?

    1. Twanky
      Big Brother

      Re: Orwell ain't seen nothing yet

      Attention citizens: Police are currently looking for a suspect with a facial tattoo that looks a bit like the imprint of the heel of a size 12 police issue boot.

    2. NoneSuch
      Thumb Up

      On an unrelated note...

      ...sales of the Guy Fawkes full face mask soar.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Orwell ain't seen nothing yet

      News from the frontline...

      Police stop people for covering their faces from facial recognition camera then fine man £90 after he protested

      [...]

      Ms Carlo, who was monitoring Thursday’s trial in Romford, London, told The Independent she saw a plainclothed police officer follow the man before a group of officers “pulled him over to one side”.

      She said they demanded to see the man’s identification, which he gave them, and became “accusatory and aggressive”.

      “The guy told them to p*** off and then they gave him the £90 public order fine for swearing,” Ms Carlo added. “He was really angry.”

      [...]

      Monitors saw several other people stopped outside Romford station, in north east London, including a student who had pulled his hood up and a man handcuffed and put in a police van.

      [...]

      “We continue to engage with many different stakeholders, some who actively challenge our use of this technology.”

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Orwell ain't seen nothing yet

        "...they demanded to see the man’s identification"

        Is that even legal?

        1. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

          Re: Orwell ain't seen nothing yet

          "Is that even legal?"

          Yes, but they can't demand you comply legally, then can only ask politely. If you've not been arrested, you are under no obligation to provide anything and if you are arrested then you have the right to remain silent.

          You can be stopped and searched if you are arrested, if the officer believes you are engaged or are about to engage in a crime and they have reasonable cause for suspicion (PACE 1996), or if they believe you may be engaged in an act of terrorism, planning an act of terrorism, or gathering information likely to be of use to a terrorist organisation (s.44 & s.45 of the anti-terrorism bill).

          Here's a quick guide from UK.GOV :

          https://www.gov.uk/police-powers-to-stop-and-search-your-rights

          The mistake the fella made was to swear at the officer. Be calm and polite. Insist on your rights. Always ask what section and paragraph they are acting under. Always ask to speak to a superior officer even if that means going to the station.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Orwell ain't seen nothing yet

            problem with being "calm and polite", apart from the fact that I wish to tell them to (...) and mind their own business is, that, being calm and polite does not _guarantee_ that they let you go. Do they not have a vague (pure coincidence) powers to stop and arrest anyone based on "reasonable grounds", or you "acting suspiciously"? And sure, you are welcome to spend the next 5 years in courts (guess, who's going to pay for your time and for legal advice?), and - in the end, prove that the grounds were NOT reasonable, and you were NOT acting suspiciously (despite officers' witnessess, fellow officers, claiming that you did act suspiciously, by hiding your face, which means, in general, that you have something to hide, so they had reasonable ground to stop you and arrest you). You will win - MAYBE. In the meantime, having been calm and polite, despite POs view that you acted aggressively and suspicious (what's that grunt and sulk, eh?), you would have been taken to the station, and they would have calmly and politely requested a DNA sample (bye-bye sample, hello DNA database) and your mugshot (bye-bye... hello...) and you can then spend another 5 years in courts trying (succeeding?) to have those images and samples destroyed. Go ahead, be calm and polite...

            1. LucreLout Silver badge

              Re: Orwell ain't seen nothing yet

              Go ahead, be calm and polite...

              Being angry and rude will only ever raise the odds of all the adverse consequences you suggest. Polite and calm will never raise the odds of that. It's a simple choice. It's no guarantee, of course, but it's a really simple choice.

              "Sorry Sarge, I ain't nicking this one - he was really angry and rude towards me and I'm too scared" Sorry, but that ain't a thing.

          2. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: Orwell ain't seen nothing yet

            The mistake the fella made was to swear at the officer. Be calm and polite.

            This, in every interaction. Anything else you do will end less well for you than this.

            Insist on your rights. Always ask what section and paragraph they are acting under. Always ask to speak to a superior officer even if that means going to the station.

            This bit you might want to be more careful about. It only takes one arrest to permenantly muck up your elligibility for a whole host of visa waiver programmes that may or may not impact upon your future employment opportunities. (I've posted before about various proxies for "are you criminal?" and visa waiver programmes are one of the best).

            It's not that I disagree with Baernard's sentiment or world view on this, by the way, only that this part of his advice may have uninetended and life long consequences.

      2. Barrie Shepherd

        Re: Orwell ain't seen nothing yet

        Wait for the new law that will make warning people that a face scanning operation is in place ahead of them an illegal act - much like warning motorists that a speed tarp is ahead is.

        Parliament should call a stop to the whole thing until some agreed operational rules are established.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Orwell ain't seen nothing yet

          Parliament should call a stop to the whole thing until some agreed operational rules are established.

          There's a huge gap between 'should' and 'will', primarily because the government is already in power.

      3. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Orwell ain't seen nothing yet

        Monitors saw several other people stopped outside Romford station, in north east London, including a student who had pulled his hood up and a man handcuffed and put in a police van.

        Just carry a Burka for such occasions. I really really can't see them stopping people in the street and removing their cultural face coverings.

    4. TheMeerkat

      Re: Orwell ain't seen nothing yet

      Whether you like it or not this technology will come.

      It is not what the police know about you that is important, it is what they do with the knowledge.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Orwell ain't seen nothing yet

      indeed, and while the day was over at the register, the show went on "live", last night :(

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/facial-recognition-cameras-technology-london-trial-met-police-face-cover-man-fined-a8756936.html

      if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, sonny. And if you dare to defy us and cover your face, fuck, I'm sure there's a way to make you see resistance if futile...

    6. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Orwell ain't seen nothing yet

      is anyone expecting anything other than Stazi levels of boots stomping on faces forever.

      Given the seeming prevelance of people publishing their own face, name, vague location etc via Farcebook et al, the police could probably refresh a database of cache public information with a few api calls or a bit of puppeteer/selenium/other.

      I'd imagine it'd generate a fresher dataset than simply using mugshots of criminals and other arrestees.

  2. Simon B-52

    Dubious tech fetishism

    An authoritarian's wet dream. The fact that it's nearly always wrong doesn't matter at all, it's still providing "reasonable grounds" to harass and detain people.

    A cynic, of which I am certainly not one, might even think that an ability discriminate leaves such people quite disinterested, because their real aim is to create a climate of ever rising fearfulness.

    Striking a positive note, I am currently developinig Automatic Physiognomic Security Systems (APSS). These do away with the tedious and inaccurate recognition of individuals, instead concentrating on the type of person scanned. Those identified as having criminal physiognomy will then automatically be shot, and a clean up request put in to Street Cleaning.

    I can offer an entry level system with two cameras, a pair of servo controlled rifles and an autodialler set to initiate clean-up for a mere £1bn.

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: Dubious tech fetishism

      If you're using two cameras you don't need the rifles - you can run SCORPION STARE on them.

  3. mark 120

    How does one decline to be scanned?

    Do I need to provide a photograph so they can add it to a 'do not scan' database?

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: How does one decline to be scanned?

      Wear a paper bag over your head.

      1. mark 120

        Re: How does one decline to be scanned?

        if I wear a plastic bag can I claim police brutality as well?

        1. caffeine addict Silver badge

          Re: How does one decline to be scanned?

          Every bag has the potential to become a bag for life...

      2. Doctor_Wibble
        Big Brother

        Re: How does one decline to be scanned?

        I always recommend Dame Edna glasses with infra-red LEDs hidden amongst the glitz.

        This can even be combined with a stick-on beard or moustache though some have suggested this might arouse suspicion and your nose will still look weird.

        1. caffeine addict Silver badge

          Re: How does one decline to be scanned?

          One day I'll grow a beard bushy enough I can make it look fake with the careful addition of a couple of bits of wire going behind my ears.

          My bucket list is a strange one.

      3. Snake

        Re: How does one decline to be scanned?

        "Wear a paper bag over your head"

        I was thinking that wearing a photo of Teresa May would be much more effective in making a point...

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: How does one decline to be scanned?

          It certainly would make a point. Theresa May is the UK Prime Minister; Teresa May is a US porn star.

    2. adam payne Silver badge

      Re: How does one decline to be scanned?

      How about a laughing man mask?

      "I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes."

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: How does one decline to be scanned?

      You shouldn't need to decline. You shouldn't be scanned unless you have given specific consent. There are exceptions in the DPA to cover police usage but I don't remember anything about exceptions for "just testing" for anybody.

      1. Freedom Farmer

        Re: How does one decline to be scanned?

        Why what have you got to hide?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why what have you got to hide?

          I've got loads of things to hide. Just because they aren't illegal doesn't make them any of your (or the police's) business.

    4. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: How does one decline to be scanned?

      "How does one decline to be scanned?"

      Really Ugly T-Shirt

      Or a Squidsuit.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get your mask

    Romford commuters should wear one of these --^

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Get your mask

      ... and then stand around for a few extra minutes, looking in a friendly way at the nice police van, before heading off home?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Get your mask

        Hmm:

        https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/facial-recognition-cameras-technology-london-trial-met-police-face-cover-man-fined-a8756936.html

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Get your mask

      I'm surprised that Big Brother Watch or someone isn't setting up stalls just around the corner from the cameras, warning people what they're about to walk in front of. They could provide free masks for those that felt snooped on.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The officer's name is "Balhatchet". Really? Sure it's not Holden McGroin?

  6. Just Enough

    head of Met Police

    Google has lots of photos of Cressida Dick, head of Met Police, that would be of acceptable quality if blown up to the size of, say, a mask.

  7. Cynical Pie

    I'm surprised no one in authority has trotted out the classic nothing to hide nothing to fear etc etc

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      mutin has obliged in a post below.

      I wish we could claim "there's always one" but on this topic there are probably hundreds of thousands.

  8. Simon B-52

    Where does this end up?

    To see where this sort of authoritarianism leads to, we could do worse than look at China:

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/china-disappeared-2018-1.4962007

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/spavor-kovrig-china-canada-1.4966857

    TLDR?

    Don't go there....

  9. David Nash Silver badge

    Fortunately the weather will cause lots of scarf-wearing. Many faces will be covered anyway.

    1. harmjschoonhoven

      Fortunately the weather will cause lots of scarf-wearing. Many faces will be covered anyway.

      Yeah, Cover your head like a Ninja.

  10. OrientalHero

    This should have been trialed at Parliament.

    It's such an important security enhancing tech, that the trial should have been inflicted, I mean tested there to highlight the numerous crooks and fraudsters entering the bastion of British democracy.

  11. adam payne Silver badge

    Campaign group Liberty, on the scene, said that this time there is Met Police branding on the blue van – although this doesn't say anything about AFR. Both cameras are focused on the entrance to the station.

    Only one van? There are two entrances to Romford station.

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Has anyone been to the other one to check to see if there's a notice saying "closed - please use other entrance"?

  12. mutin

    so many concerns - about what?

    I'm not in London, I'm in THE US. And frankly, do not understand people's concern. may be with the exception of wasting tax money. All your faces are in ID/passport etc. systems. All your faces have been captured on various security cameras. recorded and saved and kept for long time. So, what is your "privacy" concern over guys playing hi-tech toy with low level of success? Liberty and overall liberals' politically motivated speculations when nothing wrong happened and will not? Anybody detained, behind bars?

    As I always said being CISSP - do not expect any privacy when you are in public space, do not use Internet if you are worry about you freedom rights, do not encrypt email as it is useless. Only people who have something to hide should worry about stupid hi-tech toys. Ask guys for your picture and have a fun!

    1. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

      Re: so many concerns - about what?

      "I'm not in London, I'm in THE US."

      Which police department or 3-letter agency?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: so many concerns - about what?

      Don't exercise your rights if you're worried about claiming said rights?!?

      Remind us which 3 letter agency abuser of people's rights do you work for again?

      Land of the free (sic) lecturing the UK on how we should just bend over and accept KGB-like surveillance. Unbelievable.

    3. Z Ippy

      Re: so many concerns - about what?

      [Quote]Only people who have something to hide should worry about stupid hi-tech toys. Ask guys for your picture and have a fun![/Quote]

      So when they come to fit a camera to your living room, to your bathroom and to your bedroom, you will of course allow them, as you have nothing to hide!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re campaigners hope it will be the last time the force uses the kit

    you ain't seen nothi' yet! :(

    1. IceC0ld Bronze badge

      Re: re campaigners hope it will be the last time the force uses the kit

      1984 was supposed to be a WARNING

      NOT a feckin INSTRUCTION BOOK FFS

      it has also been said that George would maybe not have been surprised at the levels of intrusion into peoples private lives, but would be more concerned that we are happy to buy the cameras ourselves :o(

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "We continue to engage with many different stakeholders

    none of those captured, eh?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More prison transport

    Courtesy of Queen Theresa no doubt.

  16. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    Well that didn't exactly fit the billing (unless a fit-up by The Bill counts as the same thing):

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/facial-recognition-cameras-technology-london-trial-met-police-face-cover-man-fined-a8756936.html

  17. Chika

    Romford, where?

    If you really want to insult me, refer to me as a Londoner. Bloody expansionists.

  18. Z Ippy

    Covering Your Face or Using Glasses With Lights.......

    Will be considered to be "Perverting the Course of Justice", for which could mean life in prison!

    Drivers who use lasers to defeat speed cameras are so charged, though the sentences are not likely to be that long. How does 8 months sound: https://northyorkshire.police.uk/news/laser-jammer-prison/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Covering Your Face or Using Glasses With Lights.......

      They'd be sending perps (hate that word) to Australia if they could get away with it.

      British so-called justice is heading back into "might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb" territory.

  19. Gashead

    Such a good readership El Reg. Not one person argued that Romford is in Essex. It took 54 years but we're finally getting there!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It what we voted for!

    Everyone keeps saying they voted for more: CONTROL.

    Well now we'll be getting it. Job done. Enjoy!

    Glad I stocked up on popcorn.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019