The Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group (BFEG)

I invite you all to read the recent interim report published by The Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group (BFEG).  

Of particular importance is the Terminology and definitions highlighted on page 1- Live facial recognition final paragraph which states: 

'In the recent field trials LFR was used to assist recognition of persons of interest on the watchlist; this meant that police personnel were required to verify/override a possible match identified by the system (a system alert) and decide what actions, if any, should be taken on the ground.'  

This statement supports the surveillance Camera Commissions Code of Practice paragraph 3.2.3 which states: 

Any use of facial recognition or other biometric characteristic recognition systems needs to be clearly justified and proportionate in meeting the stated purpose, and be suitably validated4. It should always involve human intervention before decisions are taken that affect an individual adversely.    

BFEG's policy sponsor, Alex Macdonald, asked the group to consider police use of facial recognition systems. In response, the BFEG commissioned this report which outlines a framework of ethical principles that should be taken into consideration when developing policy on the use of live facial recognition technology for policing purposes and when designing trials of the technology.

The framework identifies nine key ethical areas that should be considered when designing policy and deploying technology. These include consideration of the public interest, necessity and proportionality of any proposed uses.

This report was authored by the Facial Recognition Working Group of the BFEG.

The members of the group were Professor Nina Hallowell, Professor Louise Amoore, Professor Simon Caney and Dr Peter Waggett. The group was chaired by Professor Hallowell. The report was approved by the main committee.

The BFEG will continue to monitor development in this field and will advise Home Office ministers as appropriate.

Both this independent report and the CoP support the need for human intervention and for a human to be the final decision maker when using Facial Recognition. Whilst the report is focused on the Police, ultimately, ethical use of facial recognition deployment will become part of facial recognition system use in other areas.

The ASR assert that the human should always be a super recogniser and we work tirelessly on your behalf to achieve this.


0800 773 4869     

Yours faithfully,

Gilly Crichton
Chief Executive Officer