London police chief says laws and regulations holding back use of facial biometrics

London Metropolitan Police Chief Cressida Dick says the force’s attempts to use facial recognition on CCTV cameras are being hindered by a complex legal and regulatory environment, the Guardian reports.

Dick also blamed Theresa May for making police’s job more difficult when she was head of the Home Office. The Home Office has faced regular criticism for its handling of both biometric data and policy, which has continued under Amber Rudd and Sajid Javid.

Speaking after five murders in six days in London, Dick said that police no longer rely primarily on witnesses and confessions thanks to the wealth of communications and digital resources available. She also noted that while police struggle to use technology to their advantage, “bad guys” have time to catch up.

“I am very keen that the law keeps up with the technology and I don’t feel that we are working in a tremendously enabling environment at the moment,” Dick said.

Big Brother Watch is currently arguing in court against the use of facial recognition CCTV by UK police.

“I totally agree that the Home Office has failed to provide leadership on technologies and policing. But in reality, the political abandonment has left police dangerously unleashed rather than hamstrung,” Big Brother Watch Director Silkie Carlo responded to Dick’s comments. “The Met has charged ahead using live facial recognition surveillance without a legal basis, introducing ever more authoritarian surveillance with no political supervision.”

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