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Commissioner statement following the Court of Appeal judgement on use of Facial Recognition

Last Updated: 11/08/2020

South Wales Police & Crime Commissioner Rt Hon Alun Michael has issued a statement following the Court of Appeal judgement on the use of Facial Recognition. 

Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael said:

“My priority is to ensure that South Wales Police makes best use of technology to keep the public safe while protecting civil liberties and working within the law. The use of facial recognition remains the subject of constant discussion and careful scrutiny.

“Rather than resisting interest and debate we have invited people to see what is being done and we have co-operated fully with the judicial review and Court of Appeal process which have served to provide an additional and formal level of scrutiny over and above what had already been undertaken by myself and my team, by our Joint Ethics Committee and by the outside agencies and the three statutory Commissioners who have all taken an interest in these deployments.  It is absolutely crucial for all ethical and social concerns to be taken fully into account, and I carry out that key part of my role as Police and Crime Commissioner with diligence and vigour.

“I believe that the court process has made it clear that the use of facial recognition technology by South Wales Police is legitimate and has set out what we need to do to ensure we meet our legal obligations. This is in addition to the thorough system of scrutiny and challenge that I have already put in place.  The public can be reassured that we are doing everything possible to get the balance right between protecting people’s rights and keeping the public safe.

“Preventing crime and supporting safe, confident, resilient communities is the first responsibility of the police and it is essential to use innovation and embrace technology like facial recognition so we can make the best use of police officers in local communities across South Wales.

“The Court of Appeal judgement has been extremely helpful in shaping the way the use of facial recognition technology is governed in the future and I hope it will fuel continued public debate. I want to make sure that the debate is well informed with an intelligent balance between keeping people safe and protecting their civil liberties. I’m determined that we will stick to that balance and continue with our open and transparent approach.”

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