Ahead of Sunday’s visit to the Emirates, we should like to make you aware that the Metropolitan Police Service will be using Live Facial Recognition technology at key locations in existing crime hotspots in Islington on the day of the match.
This technology will be used to find people who threaten or cause harm, including sex offenders and those who are wanted or have outstanding arrest warrants issued by the court. It will also be used to identify individuals who are subject to football banning orders. Signs will indicate where the technology is in use.
For more information on the Metropolitan Police Service’s use of Live Facial Recognition technology please visit their website here.”
THST has previously been provided with a leaflet by the Met Police that summarises how the technology works. It is attached at the bottom of this page.
We were made aware of the intention to deploy LFR technology on Friday afternoon and promptly contacted our Designated Football Officer and the Club for further clarification, stressing the importance of clear and early communication with fans attending the game.
During our calls we urged for fans to be made aware of what this technology is, why it is being used on football match days, how it will work and where in the Highbury & Islington area it will be positioned. While the above messaging provided by the Met Police to the Club has communicated the use of the technology to fans attending in advance of the game and signposted to relevant policy documents, it does not explain the reasoning for its use on football match days or at which locations it will be deployed.
There are significant concerns about the use of facial recognition technology and, particularly, around its deployment at football matches. These include concerns about an individual’s right to privacy, the retention and storage of data and discrimination against various demographic groups. Its use has been found to be unlawful in UK courts as recently as 2020 and concerns about its use have been repeatedly expressed by human rights organisation Liberty. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office has also questioned the use of facial recognition technology.
With a relatively small number of fans on Football Banning Orders in England and Wales, the deployment of the technology at football matches seems disproportionate.
THST will continue to push for both the Metropolitan Police and the Club to provide full explanations ahead of tomorrow’s game, and will continue to liaise with the police, civil rights groups and fan organisations such as FSA and FSE on this matter over the coming months.
23 September 2023