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Government looking to expand use of facial recognition technology

Policing minister Chris Philp and Professor Paul Taylor, the police chief scientific adviser strongly support the potential expansion and use of the technology.

The Government is considering expanding its use of facial recognition technology in police forces and security agencies.

The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) – the part of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) tasked with finding and funding technology for the armed forces, police and security services – has called on companies to help find “solutions that can help increase the use and effectiveness of facial recognition technologies within UK policing and security”.

The “market exploration” – which will run until October 12 – is looking for ideas that “could be deployed to benefit the Home Office and policing and within the next 18 months”.

Policing minister Chris Philp and Professor Paul Taylor, the police chief scientific adviser, said they “strongly support” the potential expansion and use of the technology.

All 43 police forces of England and Wales “are an example of potential customers” for such technologies, alongside “other security agencies”, the bid published on behalf of the Home Office said.

The Government is also looking to better its use of retrospective facial recognition, which allows authorities to use the technology “after an event to help establish who a person is or whether their image matches against other media held on image databases”.

In a letter setting out the plans, Prof Taylor said: “The minister of state for crime, policing and fire and I strongly support the development and implementation of facial recognition technology within the law enforcement sector and are encouraged by its potential.

“We firmly believe that embracing this advanced technology can significantly enhance public safety while respecting individual rights and privacy. Industry is pivotal to realisation of that mission.

“It is essential to acknowledge the concerns surrounding facial recognition technology, particularly those relating to privacy and potential biases.

“However, responsible development and implementation of facial recognition systems can address these concerns effectively.

“By establishing robust governance frameworks, implementing strict data protection protocols, and ensuring transparency and accountability, we can strike the right balance between public safety and individual privacy rights.

“To maximise the technological benefits and minimise the risks associated with facial recognition, it is crucial that we support and encourage industry to continue developing capabilities which can be deployed effectively and ethically.”

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