HUMAN rights organisations and politicians have criticised plans by the Home Office and Ministry of Justice to roll out “facial recognition smartwatches” for migrants convicted of criminal offences this Autumn.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss hit out at the plans, labelling them “completely inhumane”.

She said: “The Tories are doing all they can to deter migrants away from living a new life in the UK and we will not stand for this.

The circus that is the Tory government should spend more time tackling the cost-of-living crisis than introducing ridiculous and destructive policies which shut out so many already vulnerable people.

READ MORE: How Scottish independence can help refugees and asylum seekers

“Scotland needs the full powers of independence more urgently than ever, to welcome refugees from day one and ensure that wicked policies such as these never see the light of day.”

In documents seen by The Guardian, those wearing the smartwatches would reportedly have to scan their face up to five times a day. The proposals include the “daily monitoring” of people subject to immigration control, with an ankle tag or smartwatch being made mandatory to be worn at all times. 

Identifiable data passed on through the devices – ranging from photos, names, dates of birth and nationalities - will be stored for up to six years, while location data will be tracked “24/7”.

Data will then be shared with the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the police. 

In May, the UK Government awarded a contract to the British company Buddi Limited, for the purposes of “supporting [the] implementation of the Home Office Satellite Tracking Service for specific cohorts”.

It is set to cost £6,000,000 of taxpayer money. 

Naomi McAuliffe, Amnesty International Scotland’s programme director, said: “Facial recognition is a deeply flawed, unregulated technology which is disproportionately biased against people of colour. 

“Compounding already excessive use of immigration powers to monitor people and constrain their right to liberty by use of this technology is a dreadful proposal that would be a highly intrusive affront to people's privacy and dignity.

“The Home Office should be constraining its arbitrary exercise of detention and deportation powers, not adding yet more means to oppress people rightly or wrongly identified as subject to immigration controls.”

READ MORE: Child refugees 'disappear' under Home Office watch, damning new report finds

The organisation Privacy International also commented on Twitter, saying: “Wearables are the last frontier in total digitalisation and surveillance of our lives, leading to inevitable human rights abuses when used by powerful institutions against vulnerable populations.”

A Home Office spokesperson confirmed the imminent introduction of a “portable biometrically accessed device” and said: “Since August 2021, the Home Office has successfully tagged over 2500 foreign criminals, reassuring victims that their perpetrators cannot escape the law and will be removed from the UK at the earliest opportunity.

“Since January 2019, the government has removed over 10,000 foreign criminals. Foreign criminals should be in no doubt of our determination to deport them and the government is doing everything possible to increase the number of foreign national offenders being deported.”

Buddi Ltd declined to provide comment.