back to article UK Home Secretary doubles down on cops' deeply flawed facial recognition trials

As if further indication was needed of Britain's slide into a surveillance state, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has backed highly flawed police trials of facial recognition cameras. Speaking at the launch of tools to be used to combat online child abuse, he said it was right for forces to "be on top of the latest technology". "I …

  1. ArrZarr

    I think Sajid is getting mixed up.

    The Porn Block is about failing to catch pedophiles.

    Facial Recognition is about failing to catch everybody else.

    Edit: I might have needed to read that penultimate paragraph more closely.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Most recent government plans relate to failing (or about to fail)

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      I always get the feeling that Sajid Javid keeps shouting about anything even slightly controversial, because if he didn't, we would all forget he was there and ignore him.

      And he's right!

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "we would all forget he was there and ignore him."

        Just as well he keeps shouting, then. At least he doesn't try to sneak in under the radar. He must be one of the worst Home Secs of recent times, quite an achievement given the competition.

    3. Peter X

      ...and Sajid Javid is about failing to become PM.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Facial Recognition is about failing to catch everybody else."

      Facial recognition which is used by the plod to help narrow in on someone might be useful - as in "I've got something that looks a bit like who you're looking for, but you need to check it".

      Facial recognition which can't pick up people being looked for is useless.

      Facial recognition which is being used as an excuse to harrass the innocent is a menace. "Computer says you match Ronnie Biggs. I don't care if you're obviously an 87year old black grandmother, you're fucking nicked"

      Unfortunately, it seems to be all about the latter. Not the Nine O'Clock News pieces on PC Savage weren't supposed to be a documentary.

      Then again, Alan B'stard wasn't supposed to exist in real life either.

      1. Nick Kew

        Unfortunately, it seems to be all about the latter.

        Is it? I've not seen the evidence, one way or t'other.

        Though I have got stopped for apparently looking like some suspect in my time, that was long before these technologies. I guess one of the few perks of ageing is that one is less in the firing line for both the villains and the cops.

        1. ds6 Bronze badge

          The older you are the easier it is to nick your wallet.

  2. illuminatus


    "I back the police in looking at technology and trialling it,"

    Even when it's expensive and doesn't work.

    ESPECIALLY when it's expensive and doesn't work.

    1. CommanderGalaxian

      Re: Right...

      Innocent people have nothing to fear - even when they are in a prison cell. Statis-testically facial recognition is accurate more than 50% of the time - so mostly crims can't have a complaint; the innocent simply have to accept their involuntarily altruism in ensuring the system works efficiently.

      1. ds6 Bronze badge

        Re: Right...

        We're all working toward a goal of furthering our country, strengthening our bonds, and supporting the people—so that's why you need to sit there quietly while this fine Keeper Of The Peace applies with force his High Speed No-no Stick to your kneecaps.

  3. Steve Todd

    You can pretty much guarantee that when the government starts talking

    about a law being to help catch paedophiles and/or terrorists then (1) it will be totally useless for that task and (2) it will be bad for the rest of the country's population.

    1. NonSSL-Login

      Re: You can pretty much guarantee that when the government starts talking

      Every time. Without fail.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: You can pretty much guarantee that when the government starts talking

      That's because it's TALKING about those things, but the INTENT is entirely different (ie: Bait and Switch)

      The laws are working as intended by those who drafted them.

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    More policy-based evidence making

    And it's going so well for the country, isn't it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was to be expected really . . . . .

    What with London rep. as the CCTV capital of the world. (Dunno about Wales)

    Wondered if anyone has pointed out to Javid how easily it can be fooled . . . .

    It always worries me how easily politicians can be fooled into thinking tech is better than it is. They're an IT salesdroids dream.

  6. HarryBl

    "Javid said: “This game-changing tech will help us do this and will be vital in the fight to bang a few more innocent people up.”"


  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slide into a surveillance state?

    No, we are not sliding or sleepwalking into a surveillance fascism. Britain is sprinting as fast as it can into "total law enforcement", and the formation of a "ministry of alterations". People being jailed for jokes? Journalists being jailed for reporting stuff that had already been reported? This country is going to be a hell hole. Stop voting for the same idiot parties, and lets get our rights back people!

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Slide into a surveillance state?

      Stop voting for the same idiot parties

      I'm afraid idiot parties are all that's available. I suppose we could each vote for a different idiot party.

      1. Teiwaz

        Re: Slide into a surveillance state?

        I'm afraid idiot parties are all that's available. I suppose we could each vote for a different idiot party.

        Well, not voting for the major parties everytime.

        I think if people are upset with party A but feel uncomfortable voting for Party B, they tend to vote for Party A, and hope things will work out.

    2. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Slide into a surveillance state?

      Journalists being jailed for reporting stuff

      Although when the Mail on Sunday ignores the Official Secrets Act and publishes diplomatic cables there's not a peep from HMG, if it had been The Guardian or even worse, The Socialist Worker, you can guarantee they would be screaming for the editors head on a plate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Slide into a surveillance state?

        I'm generally in favour of freedom of the press, but publishing those diplomatic cables was beyond the pale for me. The editor of the Mail on Sunday needs to have his balls nailed to the wall for that.

        Either that or just repeal the whole official secrets act and see what happens.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Slide into a surveillance state?

      It doesn't help that FPTP only allows the same two idiot parties to win when it comes round to election time.

      1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

        Re: Slide into a surveillance state?

        Actually, I am kinda hoping that the massive mess we have got into now might be the end for FPTP.

        With a GE in the next 12 months a virtual certainty (the only interesting question being whether it is before or after Boris fails to deliver Brexit), and the Tories completely self-destructed, and Labour mostly so, it is likely the next parliament will be "very weird". I am hoping this will be the opportunity for the smaller parties to kill FPTP to kill the 2-party system and help to prevent a similar disaster befalling the country again.

        The only problem will be whether there will be much of a country left to govern.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Slide into a surveillance state?

          "Actually, I am kinda hoping that the massive mess we have got into now might be the end for FPTP."

          The electoral system can only change if the parties in power allow it - and it's not in their interested to allow a change from FPTP - which is why the "Proportional Representation" referendum of a few years back was for the version with the least proportionality and the greatest resemblance to FPTP.

          The correct way to do it is what New Zealand did (it took 30 years to get to that referendum and ONLY because politicians feet were held to the fire over promises made whilst in opposition)

          1: Should we keep FPTP or change to something else?

          2: If we do change to something else, what should we use?

          In that case, MMP (a form of Alternative vote as used by Germany) won the day, despite both main parties AND all business interests heavily campaigning against it.

          20 years later when the public were asked if they wanted to keep it, move to something else or move back to FPTP, they voted to keep it.

          However this is Britain, home of the half arsed implementation of everything, so it'll never happen.

          1. GrumpyKiwi

            Re: Slide into a surveillance state?

            We did vote to keep MMP. We also asked for all sorts of other changes to restrict the powers of political parties from putting up their most hated f***wits on the party lists, to keep the number of MP's limited and so forth. Guess which part of what we voted for we got to keep? Yep just the bits that directly benefitted MPs. I can tell you right now that the quality of MP's has not been improved by this - we have proportionally just as many useless f***wits in power as the UK.

        2. Wapiya

          Re: Slide into a surveillance state?

          Actually, I am kinda hoping that the massive mess we have got into now might be the end for FPTP.

          AFAIK the UK has not a FPTP system. It is winner takes all. Even though it is often called FPTP there is no post to reach. You just have to be the candidate with the most votes. FPTP normally requires a second round of voting for the leading candidates unless one had the absolute majority on the first round. Or Alternate Votes. FPTP would be way better, but your WTA does prefer a block party system. If one side is split in multiple candidates, the other wins.

      2. MonkeyCee

        Re: Slide into a surveillance state?

        FPTP results in a two party system. The only changes that happen is one of the parties being swapped for another, such as Labour replacing the Liberals.

        Any vote for anyone other than the two parties or the possible replacement is wasted. Often the replacement vote is often wasted too.

        Also means one of your votes count, my UK vote is in Henley, which is on of the largest constituencies. If I moved to Scotland, my vote would be worth 10-20 times as much.

        It's why proportional representation is hated by the current parties. Currently Labour/Cons get 60-70% of the vote between them and 85% of the seats.

    4. JohnFen

      Re: Slide into a surveillance state?

      If it makes you feel any better (and it shouldn't), the US is sprinting right alongside.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Slide into a surveillance state?

        Sadly not. And Canada as well with their twonk of a PM. Australia is not much better. Can't run away, and I am not the man to fight it, but fight it we must.

        1. The Central Scrutinizer

          Re: Slide into a surveillance state?

          Huh, in New South Wales some idiot politician (can't remember his name, they all look and sound the same) is totally CONVINCED that all public transport passengers will be travelling and paying fares by submitting to facial recognition technology. Of course we will all meekly agree with that because nothing could ever go wrong and there would never be a problem with being tracked and surveilled!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Journalists being jailed for reporting stuff that had already been reported?

      Bullshit! He knew precisely what he was doing. Was funny to see him beg trump for asylum though, what a snowflake.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Slide into a surveillance state?

      > Journalists being jailed for reporting stuff that had already been reported?

      You have been drinking that Yaxley-Lennon Kool Aid again haven't you?

      > This country is going to be a hell hole.

      Thanks to Yaxley-Lennon, his ilk, and all the gullible fascist fools who believe their every word.

      > Stop voting for the same idiot parties, and lets get our rights back people!

      No need to ask which way you voted in the referendum is there. And one could make a good guess as to which party you will be voting for. We could nail that down if you let us know whether you align with UKIP and see Farage as the Bad Guy or still see him as the Good Guy

      It amuses me that some people don't think he's far right enough. But it also worries me greatly.

      But indeed; why keep voting for the same idiot parties when there are plenty of new idiot parties to choose from and plenty of idiots who will vote for them.

      Are you Katie Hopkins and should I be claiming my five pounds?

    7. CountCadaver

      Re: Slide into a surveillance state?

      Fat chance - Yes Minister wasn't a comedy, it was a documentary, ever noticed how the government changes but the same ideas keep coming up time and time again?

      DWP - all benefit claims are fraudulent (see Universal credit scam and the BBCs reporting that intimated that the claimants were all on the fiddle in the reports tone, along with using DWP whatsapp messages agitating for advances to be stopped again)

      Internet restrictions

      ID cards will be back on the agenda next along with road pricing

  8. Anonymous Coward

    I still believe the Home Office's infatuation with a surveillance state...

    Has to do with someone dredging the One Ring out of the Thames about 25 years ago, and the ring being kept in a vault next to the Home Secretary's office ever since.

    1. Jemma

      Re: I still believe the Home Office's infatuation with a surveillance state...

      The Secret Diaries of Boris Johnson

      Very bored in number 10. Nothing to do but play Scrabble with Smeagol Gove. Is v. annoying as Gove only wants to play the Black Speech of Mordor version. You try spelling Azg Nazg Gimbatul for a triple word score. Yeah, I didn't think so...

      In other news, I keep hearing voices from the last cupboard on the left in the Private Office. Something about a "Sam killing someone if he tries anything...?!". Still, could be worse, could be suggesting I invade Saudi Arabia...

      Thank you the immortal Cassandra Claire.

      I imagine Boris Johnsons diaries to read something like the Flashman stories, hold the courage, talent and luck, not to mention tastefully written passages about getting laid.

  9. Jemma

    Oh fantastic

    Let's have proportional representation - woo hoo - like they did in Italy, Germany and France pre WW2. That ended well didn't it. I think it was France that had something like 11 different governments in 20 years or something stupid.

    You want democracy to work properly (UK as an example)? It's very simple. Bar anyone with an IQ under 100 from voting, break up the current parties and completely reboot parliament. Make it so the people vote for prospective prime ministers (ie the people vote for the leaders of the parties) and have two individuals as PM - in a similar way to the Roman consular system - so one gap-skulled cretin can't do what they like with made up evidence (Tory Blur (Blair) I'm looking at you).

    Whilst you are at it - take UC out and shoot it in the head, as should have been done years ago (I have legal protections on my details - and if I want to have those legal protections on my account I literally CAN'T use UC). Stop the whining about anti-Semitism - the parties all just as bad as each other - and the Conservatives were/are worse, Right Club anyone? And as for the OVOC - if foisting Christianity and Islam and all their joys on us isn't a crime against humanity I don't know what is. Ditto institutionalised homophobia, practically every war crime, war and massacre since 380ce... What's not to like. And in case this concept eludes you. Judaism begets Christianity, Christianity becomes an official state religion in 380ce (battle of the Milvian Bridge) - Islam turns up as a mixture of the two in EXACTLY 622ce and every war since then has been partially religious or anti religious... PS just for existing I'm under 4 separate death sentences under the strictest interpretation of OVOC religious law.

    PPS look up the Sicarii if you want to know why the Jews were booted out of Israel.

    As for the home secretary - he should put himself out of our misery. The latest bright idea - putting in speed bumps then whining about pollution from people using their brakes and wearing out their tires. Another stunner? Putting 0% company car tax on electric cars when to equalise the pollution from one new diesel and a 100+kw muskkretinwagen takes at best 7 years and at worst 17! The smaller ones are a better bet but they still just move the pollution.

    Face recognition is laughable, but expensive, expensive is automatically better for the average dribbling idiot in Whitehall or Parliament. It must be - after all BMW (the ultimate wanking machine) sell a butt load of MINIs in drag for twice what they're worth.. What's not to like?

    And we can't have something associated with government working as promised - the electorate might get to like the idea! Sir Humphrey would be mortified.

    I'm just waiting for the new criminal offence, "looking like a Brazilian Electrician, with Intent"

    It's be nice if we could get hold of a PM who's like a antimatter version of Putin. Talented, intelligent and competent, and doesn't channel Senator Palpatine. Putin *is* eloquent, Boris Freiherr von Braindead thinks an Eloquent is a large grey mammal that has a fondness for grass.

    1. NonSSL-Login

      Re: Oh fantastic

      Reg: "All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?"

      Xerxes: "Well Caelius Aurelianus translated that Soranus of Ephesus geezers words describing phrenetis, mania and melancholy!"

      Reg: "Whats that got to do with anything?"

      Everyone: "precisely!"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh fantastic

      Ban degrees in politics and political science, forbid anyone working as a "researcher or parliamentary aide" from standing for parliament, require 10 years REAL WORLD work experience before standing for parliament, 2 term maximum, no transfer of seats from parent to child - I'm looking in the direction of a certain Scottish Labour politician whose father went to become a governor overseas.

      No more braying like donkeys, no more hooting or banging on stuff to drown out someone - anyone doing it - first offence out of parliament for 3 months without pay, second new election, would focus plenty of minds and rapidly so. No more subsidised meals, no more subsidised bars, build a very basic accomodation block for those whose constituencies are not commutable distance from London ala Forces singfe living accomodation - bed, desk, shower.

      End to single gender shortlists, I want the best candidates in parliament, NOT someone selected because they do or don't have a certain bodypart, skin colour, religion etc.

      While we are at it local councillors restricted to 1 or 2 terms max, required to have lived in the area full time for 5-10 years continuously

      1. Chairman of the Bored

        Re: Oh fantastic

        Aye, but you missed "no banging the right someone to get something" requirement

        1. CountCadaver

          Re: Oh fantastic

          I got a lot more respect for John Major when I heard he'd been having an affair for years, diminished a bit when I realised it was Edwina Currie, but still who have thought Mr Grey would do something that daring.....

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scottish Government right behind it also

    SNP MSP told me "its no different to first gen biometrics such as fingerprints and we'll have a regulator" missing the entire point of it harvesting people's biometrics and then cross referencing it to the DVLA, Passport database and any collection of photos of people they can get their hands on.......

    SNP and Tories not 100 miles apart......

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just lock up everyone

    Then they won't need to monitor anyone. problem solved.

    After all, everyone is guilty of something, might as well get it over with.

    Maybe we can model our prisons after China's too, organ harvesting camps. yes really, look it up.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well as long as they don't use it to identify someone before shooting them.

    Eight <expletive deleted> times.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh look, another Home Secretary acting against the interests of the public.

    How many "unlawful" judgements did Theresa May have against her in her tenure as Home Secretary?

    Javid is just another enemy of the people whilst pretending to be what MPs laughably refer to as a "public servant". Sic.

  14. ocflyfish

    Pithy quote from Mr. Orwell

    “Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or bed—no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters in your skull.”

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pithy quote from Mr. Orwell

      And no doubt some group of scientists is working, as we speak, on how to deprive you of that freedom.


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