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Wanted man caught after deployment of controversial Live Facial Recognition technology in London – Man assaulted police officer on being detained

A man who was arrested as a result of the deployment of Live Facial Recognition technology for failing to appear at court remains in police custody having assaulted a police officer.

On the evening of Saturday, 9 September, a police van with Live Facial Recognition (LFR) technology was operating in Wardour Street, W1 after Westminster Police announced the technology will be in use.

At around 20:15hrs, a 26-year-old man passed through the deployment area and was identified through LFR as wanted for failing to appear for sentencing on 5 May 2023 at Thames Magistrates’ Court.

The man assaulted a police officer on being detained. He was found to be in possession of Class B drugs and arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker and possession of drugs in addition to the ‘wanted’ offence.

The police officer, a sergeant attached to the Met’s Violent Crime Taskforce, was taken to hospital for treatment to head injuries. He has since been discharged.

The arrested man had been found guilty of two counts of possession of pointed/bladed articles at Thames Magistrates’ Court on 4 April 2023.

The convictions followed his arrest in Woodfield Road, W2 on 16 November 2021 after officers were called to a disturbance and he was found to be in possession of two knives.

The Metropolitan Police uses facial recognition technology called NeoFace, developed by Japanese IT firm NEC, which matches faces up to a so-called watch list of offenders wanted by the police and courts for existing offences, Daily Mail reported.

Cameras scan faces in its view measuring the structure of each face, creating a digital version that is searched up against the watch list. If a match is detected, an officer on the scene is alerted, who will be able to see the camera image and the watch list image, before deciding whether to stop the individual.  

Not everybody on police watch lists is wanted for the purposes of arrest – they can include missing people and other persons of interest.

(Source: Metropolitan Police)

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