Public Expects Facial Recognition Policing, London’s Top Officer Says

June 3, 2019, 9:55 PM UTC

The top official at the London Metropolitan Police on Monday defended the use of facial recognition technology in policing, as debate rages over the software’s potential to reinforce racial bias.

“I actually believe facial recognition technology, properly overseen, properly thought about, properly circumscribed, is something that our public would expect us to be doing,” Cressida Dick, commissioner for the Met, said at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women International Summit in London.

“If a terrorist was walking down the street in London, most of the public would think that we should be using a technology that would stop that person,” added Dick, the Met’s first female commissioner. “We’re miles from that, by the way.”

The same day as Dick’s talk, according to The Independent, the London Policing Ethics Panel said that in order for the use of such technology to be acceptable, field trials conducted by the force would have to be proved to have significantly improved the efficiency of policing—a milestone it hasn’t yet hit.

Dick’s other concern on Monday was for the effect a “no-deal” Brexit would have on the force. “If we were to come out without any sort of deal, there will be an awful lot of work to replicate the kind of systems that we currently have access to,” she says.

“I don’t want people to think that I’m saying that there’s a very gloomy picture, or London is at risk,” she said. “But there will have to be a lot more investment.”

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