Youth advocacy worker misidentified by Met Police facial recognition system

Occurred: May 2024

Shaun Thompson, a 38-year-old youth-advocacy worker, was misidentified by the Metropolitan Police’s facial recognition system, prompting concerns about its accuracy and reliability.

Thompson was returning home from a volunteering shift with Street Fathers, a community organisation that provides a positive male presence to young people and tackles knife crime, when he was wrongly flagged as a person on the Metropolitan Police’s facial recognition database outside London Bridge station. 

He was held by officers for almost 30 minutes, who repeatedly demanded scans of his fingerprints and threatened him with arrest, despite him showing multiple identity documents showing that he was not the individual on the facial recognition database.

This case raised concerns about the accuracy of facial recognition technology and its potential for misidentification. Civil liberty groups are worried that its accuracy is yet to be fully established. 

As a result, Thompson and others have launched legal challenges against the Metropolitan Police and surveillance company Facewatch. They aim to roll back facial recognition surveillance and defend people’s rights.

Operator: Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)
Developer: NEC
Country: UK
Sector: Govt - police
Purpose: Identify criminals
Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Human/civil rights
Transparency: Governance

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