Wanted sex offender caught on facial recognition camera at King Charles coronation

Image of man, 33, matched the mugshot of a wanted suspect , trigger alert to Met Police

Matt Mathers
Monday 31 July 2023 11:36 BST
Related video: How the world celebrated King Charles’s coronation

A wanted sex offender was sent back to jail after being caught by a facial recognition camera at the coronation of King Charles.

The 33-old-man, who has not been named, was picked up by one of the cameras operating in a van near Buckingham Palace on 6 May.

An image of his face was captured by the hi-tech cameras and fed into a database that matched a mugshot of a wanted suspect.

This sparked an alert to the Metropolitan Police and the man was immediately arrested and sent back to prison for breaching the terms of his release.

The use of facial recognition cameras is controversial and they have been rolled out in only two police forces across the UK - the Met and South Wales Police.

Privacy campaigners say the mass surveillance technique turns people into “walking ID cards” and should be banned.

Police forces say they help to tackle crime - particularly at large-scale events and keep dangerous criminals of the streets.

The Met, Britain’s largest force, welcomed a research report published in April this year that found there were minimal discrepancies for race and sex when the technology is used at certain settings.

It was also found to correctly identify between identical twins.

South Wales Police in April paused its use of the technology amid concerns over discrimination but said it was committed to using the camera in the long-term.

Privacy campaigners say cameras have no place in a democracy
Privacy campaigners say cameras have no place in a democracy (Getty Images)

Human rights groups Liberty, Big Brother Watch and Amnesty have said the technology is oppressive and has no place in a democracy.

Government ministers have previously voiced support for the cameras and Home Office officials have drawn up secret plans to lobby the independent privacy regulator in a bid to roll out the technology on high streets, shops and supermarkets, the Observer reported.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Facial recognition plays a crucial role in helping the police tackle serious offences including murder, knife crime, rape, child sexual exploitation and terrorism.”

“New technology is key to more effective, efficient policing and we are keen to see more police forces use facial recognition, in a fair and proportionate way.”

A Met spokesperson said: “As part of the operation for the Coronation, LFR was deployed on Saturday, 6 May.

“One arrest was made as a result of the technology. One man, 33, was arrested at Green Park on recall to prison for breach of a sexual offences prevention order and non-payment of fines.”

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