Campaign: Face Off

Stop the Police using authoritarian facial recognition cameras

The FaceOff campaign is heading into the next round. Despite the evidence that live facial recognition cameras pose a threat to our privacy, freedom of expression, and right of association, the Metropolitan Police are continuing to use this authoritarian technology in public spaces.

This needs to end.

Together with Baroness Jenny Jones we’ve written to the Metropolitan Police and the Home Secretary to demand an immediate end to the police’s use of live facial recognition. This dangerous Orwellian surveillance tool has no place on our streets and if the police don’t stop using it – we will take them to court.

However, we can’t do this without your help. Please support the cause by donating to the CrowdJustice fundraiser today. Thank you!

UPDATE: Greater Manchester Police (GMP) secretly monitored every visitor to the Trafford Centre for 6 months – an estimated 15 million people’s faces have been scanned. Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Tony Porter, has halted the use of live facial recognition by GMP, citing issues with proportionality. He said “compared to the size and scale of the processing of all people passing a camera the group they might hope to identify was minuscule.”

If you or someone you know has been affected by live facial recognition, let us know by sending an email to




#FaceOff Pledge

We call on UK public authorities to immediately stop using automated facial recognition software with surveillance cameras

We are deeply concerned about the impact of automated facial recognition on individuals’ rights to a private life and freedom of expression, and the risk of discriminatory impact

We call on the Home Office to automatically remove the thousands of images of unconvicted individuals from the Police National Database

Big Brother Watch

Article 19


Football Supporters Federation

Index on Censorship

Institute of Race Relations


The Monitoring Group


Open Rights Group

Police Action Lawyers Group

Race Equality Foundation

Race On The Agenda

Runnymede Trust

Tottenham Rights



Baroness Jenny Jones

David Lammy MP

Sir Edward Davey MP

Lord Strasburger

NameJob Title/Affiliation
Ian McGrath
Daniel Budden
Daniel McCarthy
Patrick Skelton Software Engineer
Dr. Samuel Frost
Kevin McCarthy
Stephen Mainwaring
Adrian Mitchell
Peter Wild
Mair Bain Animator
Craig Farlow Gas Engineer
John Connett Software Engineer (retired)
Sonia Williams
eda seyhan
Prof. Douwe Korff Professor of International Law/London Metropolitan University
Paul Whitehouse Retired Police Officer
Wendy Grossman Journalist
Prof. John Crowfort Professor of Communications Systems/University of Cambridge
Cliff Bennett
Steve Malin
Emily Apple
clive standley retired
N Watson
ConnectFutures Director
Tim None
Hayden Nicholas St John Dempster Concerned citizen
Graham Edge
Omari Courier
Martin Pearson
Tim Edwards
Adam Douglass
Clive Halliday George Orwell acolyte
Benjamin Copywriter
Dr Julian Huppert
Russell Cage
Jacob Houghton Student
Helen Unemployed
Archie Mellor Student
Alex Student
Evelyn Kinsella
Jack Davies Student
George Sykes Actavist
Sarah benson
Phil Booth Coordinator, medConfidential / National coordinator NO2ID, 2004-11
Donna Seddon-Butland Therapist
Reece Pengilley Cleaning operative
Cat Javor
Emyr Young Photographer
Peter Bourne sole trader
Dawn Torabi
David Lusby
Kevin Dowd Professor
Barry Ifa
Mike Shovelton Businessman
Paul McKinnon Chartered Engineer
David Hill
Zarayna Pradyer Miss
Adrian Bright
Andrew Spencer
Sharon Rochester
Michael Hussey
Jonathan Jones IT Security Officer
Piotr Kubiak
Ian Hope.
Brigid Kennedy
David Roberts
Anna L. Davis Edit10for
chris burke
Erika Byrom retired
K Trogal
Kathryn Moss
Mark Haskell Cooper Mr
Richard Retired
Dave P.
Jiles Halling
Peter Gunn Retired
Mornay Accountant
Jan boyd Retired
Miss Burkhill
David Etchells
Gaynor Avery Security Consultant
J Alder
Luke Watkeys
Minh Alexander None
Sara P Nurse
Graeme Kemp
Shaun Walton
Nikita Nazarkov
Michael Joseph Senior Artworker
B. Bell Retired
David Cook Retired
Nick Jones
Martin Cain FPPG Chair
John Tanburn
Jack Chester
Dr G S Mead Retired
Mags F
Linda Lauderdale Retired Local Government Officer
david gregg retired professor
G.P. Joyce Mr.
Honor Maughan Mrs.
Llewelyn LaVista
Jonas Golland Musician/Tiger Lillies
Ian Taylor Director, Alliance of British Drivers
Mark Forster
Zepher Ashe
Stuart Hartill
Peter Davies
D. Gittins
Richard Maj Carer Support Worker
Alex Haydock Legal Officer, Open Rights Group
Tom Stott
Theresa Sives Seeker of Justice
David Foster
David Allinson
Phil Branigan programmer
A Arden Retired
Jane Scott Green Party
Paul Young
Nick Walker
Ronnie Gook
m robinson
L Davies
Tom Baker
Odette Swann
Guy Thompson CTO
chloe soffe
lynda edwards individual
Sue Taylor Disabled
John Sullivan
Nour-Eddine El Khayati
Nick McGill
john byron driver
David Durant
Paul Reddy
Paolo Fiora Les, London End Stalking
Paige Thompson
Pieter Last
Henry Compson
Graeme Rae Nurse
L Young
Richard Low Storeman
Geoff Sullivan
J D Chamberlain Care worker
Collin Deurance Musician
Michael Tombs
Lawrence Hurst Chartered Accountant
edward retired
LEONEL OLIVEIRA MATTOS College Professor (Economics)
Tobias Bruun
John Welford NO2ID Edinburgh
Amy Garrick-Wright Electrician
Jackie Courage Social Worker
Ruth Williams
Igor Danchenko Nurse
Fiona Green
martha dark COO
Terry Elliott
Max Bone Director
Alistair Duff Professor of information policy
lowell Metcalfe Computer Science Student
Sheila Jacklin
Joanne Wright
Brian Richard Allen Owner
Greg Alexander
Anne Marie Walsh
Lewis Brown
Richard Weaver
Richard Gardener
Daniel Spence
Mason Kreed
Bernard Henderson
Jere Johansson Student
Winnie Targeted individual
b-m robinson retired/campaigner/physically disabled
Erica Archaeologist
William Page Director


SIGN HERE to express your support for the FaceOff campaign: 

If you’ve been affected by automated facial recognition let us know by sending an email to


Automated Facial Recognition: Introduction


What is automated facial recognition?

It’s a relatively new technology, in which facial recognition-linked cameras scan crowds and public spaces in attempt to identify people in real-time, by matching faces against a database. The face of each and every person passing by an automated facial recognition camera will be scanned and analysed, effectively subjecting everyone within view to a covert biometric identity check.

How have police been using automated facial recognition?

Leicestershire Police, the Metropolitan Police and South Wales Police have used the technology at public events. Police have used automated facial recognition to identify and monitor petty criminals, individuals with mental health issues and peaceful protesters.

How does automated facial recognition affect our rights and freedoms?

Facial recognition cameras are biometric checkpoints – much like DNA or fingerprint checkpoints. They biometrically assess the identities of passers-by, turning us into walking ID cards. Although the use of the technology with CCTV poses a serious threat to the right to individual privacy and freedom of expression, the police are currently using facial recognition without any legal basis or parliamentary scrutiny. There is also a risk that the technology could have discriminatory impact. Multiple studies have found that facial recognition technology inherits racial and gender biases that disproportionately misidentify people of colour and women.

Our report reveals that UK police’s facial recognition ‘matches’ are almost entirely inaccurate, and some people are being stopped and asked to produce their ID to prove their innocence. Police have stored images of thousands of innocent people wrongly identified by the technology, creating a biometric database of innocent people – without their knowledge.

Why is the retention of innocent people’s images an issue?

When someone is arrested and taken into custody the police the police will take photographs of a suspect’s face. However, unlike fingerprints and DNA an individual’s custody image is not automatically deleted – it can be shared among police forces and used for biometric databases.

Being arrested does not make you guilty of a crime.

If you want to know more about the retention of innocent people’s custody images click here.


Automated facial recognition: the facts


The police’s facial recognition tools have wrongly identified innocent people up to 98% of the time

Using a series of Freedom of Information requests Big Brother Watch uncovered the full extent of automated facial recognition by UK police forces.

Our investigation reveals:

  • South Wales Police store photos of all innocent people incorrectly matched by facial recognition for a year, without their knowledge, resulting in a biometric database of over 2,400 innocent people
  • Home Office spent £2.6m funding South Wales Police’s use of the technology, although it is “almost entirely inaccurate”
  • Metropolitan Police’s facial recognition matches are 98% inaccurate, misidentifying 95 people at last year’s Notting Hill Carnival as criminals – yet the force is planned 7 more deployments in 2018
  • South Wales Police’s matches are 91% inaccurate – yet the force continued to targeted more concerts, sports matches and even Christmas markets in 2018


Breakdown of Automated Facial Recognition identifications and misidentifications

List of events and dates where South Wales Police has used AFR

UEFA Champions League Final Week (Cardiff Airport, Train station and City Centre)29/05/2017 - 03/06/20171732,297
Elvis Festival (Porthcawl)23/09/2017 - 24/09/2017107
Operation Fulcrum 'Day of Action' (Cardiff)19/10/2017510
Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev Boxing (Cardiff)28/10/2017546
Wales v Australia Rugby (Cardiff)11/11/2017642
Wales v Georgia Rugby (Cardiff)18/11/201712
Wales v New Zealand Rugby (Cardiff)25/11/201739
Wales v South Africa Rugby (Cardiff)02/12/2017518
Kasabian Concert (Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff)04/12/201743
Liam Gallagher Concert (Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff)13/12/201760
Operation Fulcrum 'Day of Action' (Cardiff)22/12/201785
Operation Malecite 'Festive Deployment' (Swansea)23/12/201720
Royal Visit - Prince Harry (Cardiff)18/01/201800
Wales v Scotland Rugby (Cardiff)03/02/201867
Stereophonics (Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff)08/03/201805
Wales v Italy Rugby (Cardiff)11/03/2018019
Wales v France Rugby (Cardiff City Centre)17/03/201867
Arms Fair demonstration (Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff)27/03/201810
BBC Biggest Weekend (Singleton Park, Swansea)26/05/2018 - 27/05/2018210
Stereophonics (Cardiff City Stadium)09/06/2018TBCTBC
The Rolling Stones (Millenium Stadium, Cardiff)15/06/2018TBCTBC
Ed Sheeran concerts (Millenium Stadium, Cardiff)21/06/2018 - 24/06/2018810
Elvis Festival (Porthcawl)28/09/2018 – 30/09/2018TBCTBC
Wales v Scotland Rugby (Cardiff)03/11/2018TBCTBC
Wales v Tonga Rugby (Cardiff)10/11/2018TBCTBC
Wales v Australia Rugby (Cardiff)17/11/2018TBCTBC
Wales v South Africa Rugby (Cardiff)24/11/2018TBCTBC
Christmas Winter Wonderland (Cardiff and Swansea)Awaiting informationTBCTBC


List of events and dates where Metropolitan Police has used AFR

Notting Hill Carnival 201628/08/2016 - 29/08/201601
Notting Hill Carnival 201726/08/2017 - 27/08/2017195
Remembrance Day 201711/11/201716
Port of Hull docks (with Humberside Police)13/06/2018 - 14/06/201800
Stratford Westfield28/06/201805
Stratford Westfield26/07/201801
Central London (Piccadilly and Leicester Square)17/12/2018 - 18/12/2018Awaiting informationAwaiting information
Romford Town Centre31/01/2018Awaiting informationAwaiting information


Freedom of Information: Responses

You can see all responses we received from Metropolitan Police, South Wales Police and other forces around the country HERE.


Our Report

In addition to these findings, our report “Face Off: the lawless growth of facial recognition in UK policing” gives the full results of our investigation, an analysis of the legal and human rights implications, and includes guest contributions from allies worldwide warning about the impact of facial recognition including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Georgetown Law, and the Race Equality Foundation.

Download the report here:


Our Legal Challenge

We sent pre-action letters to the Metropolitan Police and the Home Secretary on 13th June 2018, below.











On 25th July 2018 we issued our claim in the High Court.

We are crowdfunding for our legal fees via CrowdJustice. Over 200 people have already supported our challenge, and you can join them HERE.

More to follow…


Media Coverage