HIGH-tech facial recognition software could turn Scottish policing into the “Wild West”, MSPs claim.

London’s Metropolitan Police is to begin using live facial recognition cameras despite opposition from experts about its efficiency and impact on civil rights.

The system matches real-time CCTV images of members of the public with those included on police databases and is already used in South Wales. Campaigners Liberty say it “gives the state unprecedented power to track and monitor any one of us” and experts warn it is both inaccurate and discriminates against women and ethnic minorities. Police Scotland had said it wanted to use the system by 2026 but has now put that on hold.

Today, a report by Holyrood’s Justice Sub-Committee on Policing says there is “no justification” for the roll-out of the technology here.

The paper argues that bringing in the change would result in “a radical departure from Police Scotland’s fundamental principle of policing by consent”.

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Former police officer John Finnie, convener of the cross-party panel, commented: “It is clear that this technology is in no fit state to be rolled out or indeed to assist the police with their work. Current live facial recognition technology throws up far too many false positives and contains inherent biases that are known to be discriminatory.”

The Scottish Greens MSP went on: “Our inquiry has also shone light on other issues with facial recognition technology that we now want the Scottish Police Authority and the Scottish Government to consider. Not least among these are the legal challenges against similar technologies in England and Wales, and the apparent lack of law explicitly governing its use in Scotland – by any organisation.

“So whether this technology is being used by private companies, public authorities or the police, the Scottish Government needs to ensure there is a clear legal framework to protect the public and police alike from operating in a facial recognition Wild West.”

The report states: “Police must have all necessary tools at their disposal to combat crime and keep communities safe. New technologies have the potential to assist Police Scotland in detecting and solving crimes.

“However, each new technology must be assessed on its merits, with an honest and transparent discussion of both the benefits and the risks.”