Civil rights campaigners have condemned the Metropolitan Police’s roll-out of facial recognition technology as “dangerous, oppresive and completely unjustified."

Following ten trial deployments across the capital, the Met has confirmed it will begin the operational use of Live Facial Recognition (LFR) technology.

Scotland Yard insists the move does not represent technology taking over traditional policing and says it will be used to target crime ‘hotspots’.

However, human rights organisation Liberty have condemned the move as a “sinister step, pushing the UK into a surveillance state.”

Clare Collier, advocacy director at Liberty, said: “This is a dangerous, oppressive and completely unjustified move by the Met. Facial recognition technology gives the State unprecedented power to track and monitor any one of us, destroying our privacy and our free expression.

“Rolling out an oppressive mass surveillance tool that has been rejected by democracies and embraced by oppressive regimes is a dangerous and sinister step, pushing us towards a surveillance state in which our freedom to live our lives free from State interference no longer exists.”

The force says LFR cameras will be focused on small, targeted areas to scan passers-by. The cameras will be clearly signposted and officers deployed to the operation will hand out leaflets about the activity.

In July 2019, an independent study by Professor Pete Fussey and Dr Daragh Murray, for the University of Essex, found that across the LFR trials, the tech resulted in incorrect matches 80.5 per cent of the time.

Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave, said: “As a modern police force, I believe that we have a duty to use new technologies to keep people safe in London.

“We are using a tried-and-tested technology, and have taken a considered and transparent approach in order to arrive at this point. Similar technology is already widely used across the UK, in the private sector. Ours has been trialled by our technology teams for use in an operational policing environment.

“Every day, our police officers are briefed about suspects they should look out for; LFR improves the effectiveness of this tactic.

He added: “We all want to live and work in a city which is safe: the public rightly expect us to use widely available technology to stop criminals.

“Equally I have to be sure that we have the right safeguards and transparency in place to ensure that we protect people’s privacy and human rights. I believe our careful and considered deployment of live facial recognition strikes that balance.”