The Met Police has starting deploying live facial recognition cameras in London, despite widespread criticism over its accuracy and the breach of civil liberties, led by the MP for Erith and Thamesmead.

The Met announced on Friday it would begin operating new Live Facial Recognition (LFR) technology to aid in fighting serious crime and help find wanted criminals and missing children.

Police say the technology will be an additional tool their daily operations with officers always making the final decision, but several Labour MPs and campaign groups have slammed the scheme as a "breathtaking assault on human rights."

On Monday, Abena Oppong-Assare, the MP for Erith & Thamesmead, spoke in Parliament calling on the Government to halt their deployment as it "infringes on the rights of Muslims," such as those that wear a niqāb.

The MP, who was voted in in the December General Election, said there were wider concerns about the technology being dangerously inaccurate, particularly with women and ethnic minorities.



These claims were backed up Silkie Carlo, executive director of UK civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, who called the decision "an enormous expansion of the surveillance state and a serious threat to civil liberties in the UK."

An independent review of the Met's use of facial recognition was likely unlawful and risked harming public rights, said Ms Silkie.

"This move instantly stains the new Government's human rights record and we urge an immediate reconsideration."

The Met said 80% of people surveyed backed the move, and that following trials, police in London will start using the facial recognition cameras "within a month."

But there are serious concerns about the effectiveness of facial matches, with only eight arrests in a three-year long trial

Shadow home secretary Dianne Abbot told MPs in the Commons: "To bring in technology which may be inaccurate and may mean the guilty may go unapprehended and the innocent wrongly identified would be a spectacular own goal."

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Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney, Richmond Park, also pointed to ongoing legal challenges about the use of technology which she said is "likely to conflict with human rights law."

Responding, Home Office minister Kit Malthouse said: "As technology is rolled out it becomes more and more effective and reliable."

The Met will begin by deploying LFR at locations where intelligence suggests they are most likely to locate serious offenders, creating a bespoke 'watch-list' and focusing on small, targeted areas which will be clearly signposted.

Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave, said they were using "tried-and-tested technology" and have taken a considered and transparent approach in order to make this decision.

“This is an important development for the Met as a modern police force, and one which is vital in assisting us in bearing down on violence.

"Every day our police officers are briefed about suspects they should look out for; live facial recognition improves the effectiveness of this tactic.

"Similarly if it can help locate missing children or vulnerable adults swiftly, and keep them from harm and exploitation, then we have a duty to deploy the technology to do this."