UK police force's facial recognition tech keeps misidentifying people as potential criminals

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

Facial recognition continues to be utilized in surveillance systems, especially in China, where it’s found in millions of CCTV cameras. But what happens if the technology keeps getting it wrong? That’s the situation faced by police in Wales, where more than 2000 people were incorrectly identified as possible criminals during last year’s Champions League soccer final in Cardiff.

The Guardian reports that South Wales police started trialing the facial recognition technology last year as a way of identifying and capturing more criminals. It was used during the 2017 Real Madrid vs Juventus game, which saw 170,000 people arrive in the country’s capital.

The system matched 2,470 people with the 500,000 custody pictures on the police force’s database, but 2,297 of those identified, or 92 percent, were “false positives,” according to the South Wales Police website. Chief Constable Matt Jukes told the BBC that officers "did not take action" and no one was wrongly arrested.

This isn’t the first time the facial recognition tech has been overeager in labeling people potential criminals. It gave a 90 percent false positive at a boxing match last year, and 87 percent of the identifications it made at a rugby match were incorrect.

The police force said that “no facial recognition system is 100% accurate,” but added that the system had led to 450 arrests since it was introduced, and that it had not resulted in any incorrect arrests.

“Successful convictions so far include six years in prison for robbery and four-and-a-half years imprisonment for burglary. The technology has also helped identify vulnerable people in times of crisis,” said a spokesperson for the force.

Police have blamed the results from the Champions League game on “poor quality images” from Interpol and UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), and because it was the first time its technology had been deployed at a major event. The accuracy of the facial recognition system is said to have increased to 28 percent overall since the final, but it’s still a concern among privacy advocates.

“These figures show that not only is real-time facial recognition a threat to civil liberties, it is a dangerously inaccurate policing tool,” said Silkie Carlo, director of privacy rights group Big Brother Watch. "The tech misidentifies innocent members of the public at a terrifying rate, leading to intrusive police stops and citizens being treated as suspects."

Permalink to story.

 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Totally unacceptable, especially for a nation who's greatest known ballister was famously quoted to say "Better 100 guilty men go free than one innocent man be falsely prosecuted". Until the system can be perfected it should never be used on the population ......
 

stewi0001

TS Evangelist
Platinum
Totally unacceptable, especially for a nation who's greatest known ballister was famously quoted to say "Better 100 guilty men go free than one innocent man be falsely prosecuted". Until the system can be perfected it should never be used on the population ......
You got to test it some how. Just because it falsely matched someone, it does not mean that they jumped and arrested everyone. They even state in the article: "Chief Constable Matt Jukes told the BBC that officers "did not take action" and no one was wrongly arrested."

So in a sense they were still following their moto as you stated. I figure they actually examined the positive matches before taking action.

Is this the same case in China? I have no idea so that's still free game to judge.
 

Reehahs

TS Guru
Totally unacceptable, especially for a nation who's greatest known ballister was famously quoted to say "Better 100 guilty men go free than one innocent man be falsely prosecuted". Until the system can be perfected it should never be used on the population ......
What a pretty fallacy when those 100 guilty men reign free on the innocent.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tanstar

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Totally unacceptable, especially for a nation who's greatest known ballister was famously quoted to say "Better 100 guilty men go free than one innocent man be falsely prosecuted". Until the system can be perfected it should never be used on the population ......
You got to test it some how. Just because it falsely matched someone, it does not mean that they jumped and arrested everyone. They even state in the article: "Chief Constable Matt Jukes told the BBC that officers "did not take action" and no one was wrongly arrested."

So in a sense they were still following their moto as you stated. I figure they actually examined the positive matches before taking action.

Is this the same case in China? I have no idea so that's still free game to judge.
I agree. They checked the results and this is the important thing. Not checking the results before arresting people would have been a fiasco.
 
  • Like
Reactions: stewi0001
I think it's hilarious. We've been throwing these things out of court for years over here in the US, with "traffic cams", so it's just another piece of garbage tech that can't be used against us in a court of law. Precedents already exist. This type of stuff won't be admissable in any real criminal court.
 

Kibaruk

TechSpot Paladin
Totally unacceptable, especially for a nation who's greatest known ballister was famously quoted to say "Better 100 guilty men go free than one innocent man be falsely prosecuted". Until the system can be perfected it should never be used on the population ......
I would rather have the police run an identity check (Get stopped, show your ID, be on your way) on me a hundred times than them not doing anything about it. If those 100 checks helped them catch that 1 person, I will feel overly satisfied.
 

Bubbajim

TechSpot Staff
Staff member
The police force said that “no facial recognition system is 100% accurate,” but added ...
Yes but saying it's not 100% accurate is a bit of a dodgy cover story for something that's 8% accurate.

"Mr Smith we appear to have not received 100% of your tax receipts this year."
"Well I've paid 8% of it!"
"Oh right! Well then that's that settled."

This is all absolutely tragic though. Why are law enforcement agencies allowed to use facial recognition algorithms that track the whereabouts of millions of innocent people? This totally changes the relationship of the private citizen with their elected state. We elect representatives, they shouldn't be so elevated as to be able to make constantly surveilled peasants of us all.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Capaill and regiq