back to article London's top cop dismisses 'highly inaccurate or ill informed' facial-recognition critics, possibly ironically

The head of London’s Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, has angered critics of facial recognition technology by accusing them of being “highly inaccurate or highly ill-informed.” Those critics, in turn, have accused her of being ill informed by ignoring an independent report that reveals the technology itself is highly …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

    Misidentification of Jean Charles de Menezes.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

      Yes that was my first thought.

      Once a slimey liar, always a slimey liar.

      1. Greybearded old scrote
        Big Brother

        Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

        And who was the officer in charge that day? Got it in one.

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

          And who was the officer in charge that day?

          Is that an oxymoron?

      2. Someone Else Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

        A (s)limey liar?

        /me ducks and runs for cover....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

      They did such a great job of identification that not only did they get the wrong man, they mistook a Brazilian for an Ethiopian. Due to this, having a man in the loop for the final decision does not exactly inspire me with confidence.

      After basically executing an innocent man for the crime of "looking a bit brown in a public place", the met then tried to justify their actions by saying that he had acted suspiciously, wore inappropriate clothing and had run away jumping the barrier. All he had done was catch a train to work, with the only "suspicious" behaviour being that he ran across the platform to get on the train.

      Dick was in charge of that operation. Despite this she was promoted to assistant commissioner in 2007, before being promoted to the top job in 2017. Based on the facts of the case I think anyone is justified as viewing anything she says as not being even in the same vicinity as the truth.

      1. Alan Johnson

        Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

        I can accept that genuine mistakes can be made by anyone and when those concerned are armed police officers seeking a terrorist in the aftermath of a bombing who may bomb again that a mistake can have fatal consequences.

        What I can't accept is a deceitful campaign of disinformation following the incident, clear evidence of collusion and purjery ( all of the offices accounts matched and they were contradicted by all of the 'civilians' present) and blatant manipulation of the inquest system to prevent a finding of unlawful killing.

        It also seems at least plausible that changes made to the operational control of fire arms officers to make them more closely directed by remote senior commaders rather than the person on the spot being responsible made th etragedy more likely.

        Dick was a big part of all of that and that she was appointed commissioner after it is outrageous. I suspect, although I have no evidence for it, that it was because she was a women. A male officer in a similar position would have been shunted sideways and denied future promotions.

        Coming back to facial recognition the bayesian natur eof the problem means that a system would have to be veyr very good not to have a problem with a very high number of false positive simply because there are an lot more innocent people around than criminals. The danger is that because it is a high tech AI system that people treat the results as anything other than very dubious.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

          What I can't accept is a deceitful campaign of disinformation following the incident, clear evidence of collusion and purjery ( all of the offices accounts matched and they were contradicted by all of the 'civilians' present) and blatant manipulation of the inquest system to prevent a finding of unlawful killing.

          The whole incident sounded like American police tactics. Cops shoot someone, then close ranks, lie about it, tamper with evidence, etc. Cops investigate themselves and find that they did nothing wrong. In rare cases with sufficient public outcry, a prosecutor -- who, one should note, needs ongoing cooperation from cops to maintain his or her conviction rate -- might "get involved" (nudge nudge wink wink). Another thorough investigation will find that not only did the cops do nothing wrong, they are in fact heroes who are deeply hurt that anyone dared question them. Everyone gets a promotion and it's back to business as usual.

          1. Greybearded old scrote

            Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

            "The whole incident sounded like American police tactics."

            If it hadn't been for the fatal outcome I'd have said it was more like the Keystone Cops.

            When one officer gave evidence that he'd been thrown down with a gun to his head the penny dropped for me. They didn't perjure themselves saying that they'd seen him vaulting the barriers. They had all seen somebody do that, but didn't have a clue that it was their own colleagues.

            I wonder what would have happened if that officer had been shot by one of his own?

            1. macjules Silver badge

              Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

              Oh really? Nowadays there is a clear policy to shoot to kill a terrorist if they even suspect there is a bomb. The terrorists oblige by wearing fake bomb vests, as the recent London Bridge attack demonstrated.

          2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

            The next murder of an innocent civilian will bea able to be blamed on a "computer error" Thus absolving anyone of blame.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

              no they will just fabricate something to smear the victim's name, using Dick's method "would you have preferred this MAN went about likely ogling and molesting kids"

              Typical middle manager mentality and particularly overly promoted female middle manager - "You all criticise me because I'm a womyn" "you refuse to see how brilliant I am" "your just jealous of me" "its misogyny" etc etc

          3. Someone Else Silver badge

            @ AC -- Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

            From the song:

            Business as usual in Police Room 619

        2. Dabooka

          Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

          "The danger is that because it is a high tech AI system that people treat the results as anything other than very dubious."

          Among all the arguments and concerns, this is the one that stands out for me. I bet we all encounter on a daily basis people arguing about presented data (a lot of 'dashboards' in my case) without ever considering what has been presented may be flawed. It's assumed accurate and trying to convince certain folk to dig deeper is nigh on impossible. Computer spits it out? Can't argue.

          My challenges of this behavior are inconsequential compared to the potential with a system rolled out on this scale, a system so cutting edge and exciting operators simply wouldn't dream of questioning it first.

        3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

          It was also surprising (some might say suspicious) that in the aftermath of a recent bombing, all the relevant CCTV cameras were not working.

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

        The person who jumped the barrier was a police officer, not the innocent electrician who did not act in the slightest suspiciously. The police then attempted a bit of character assassination by stating that he was a rapist (also untrue).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

          The video recordings of the whole incident were backed up by a member of Tube staff at the station within a minute or two of the incident.

          AC for obvious reasons

    3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

      @AC I'm not reassured by Dick stating facial recognition is only going to be used for 'serious crime' , it means the response from the Police is unlikely to be an 'excuse me Sir', but they'll be prepared to go in hard, just like they did when they murdered Jean Charles de Menezes.

      1. My-Handle Silver badge

        Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

        Her statement is also belied by the fact that they pulled an innocent man off the street and found something to fine him for (I believe he swore at the police officer) just because he hid his face from the facial recognition cameras.

        Grade A felon right there.

        1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

          Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

          Even though a court ruled that a police officer should be immune to offence from profane language due to the nature of their work

          Plod response "we're not going to stop, our officers will not be treated in this way no matter what the courts say and I know the public would agree with me" - basically we're above the law and I think my shit doesn't smell

    4. Rob Crawford

      Re: Were the Met Police so 'highly accurate and well-informed' in the past?

      /mutter Doctored photographs circulated afterwards to make him appear more middle eastern

      But our facial recognition said he looked Arabic (but only after we had faked some stuff.)

    5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Gimp

      Why does anybody think this has *anything* to do with real crimes and police work?

      It is (as it always has been) about data fetishists wanting to populate a database.

      They really don't care wheather it works.

      They just want faces and a "Computer says you're on our list" so they can do what they want when they want.

      It's a personality disorder.

      Not a policy.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do we combat this?

    The old way used to be soap, ballot, jury and ammo. But I'm sure they've made at least three of those illegal.

    Guess it'll be hyperface clothing, V mask, IR LED hat and facial recognition makeup! I wonder how long before they become illegal as well?

    AC cos it's the only way to get the icon! ---->

    1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

      Re: How do we combat this?

      Didn't you read the bit about the guy not wanted to be filmed and received a £110 fine for 'disorderly conduct'?

      They're going to make sure the worms stay in line by makimg their life a living hell if they don't.

      And somehow the UK govt has the gall criticisimg China.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: How do we combat this?

        @Kabukiwookie: "the guy not wanted to be filmed and received a £110 fine for 'disorderly conduct'?"

        He swore at the Police officer who detained him, and the fine was for that. If he's just politely told them to 'no thanks' and walked away, he'd have been fine. He accepted an on the spot fine also, that would never have been taken to court if he'd opted for that.

        1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: How do we combat this?

          According to a court report,* several people who covered their faces were stopped. So, yes you have the right not to be filmed, but if you exercise that right, you will be stopped and questioned to determine your identity unless your appearance is well known to the policemen there.

          That doesn't, in principle, stop you exercising the right not to be filmed, but it comes at a personal cost if you do. In practice, that means there is no right not to be filmed or otherwise hassled unless you are a celebrity or a well-known (but not currently wanted) local villain.

          *https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/facial-recognition-cameras-technology-london-trial-met-police-face-cover-man-fined-a8756936.html

          1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

            Re: How do we combat this?

            @Smooth Newt: "you will be stopped"

            Except you don't have to stop. You only have to stop if the Police intend to search you for drugs or weapons, or arrest you. Just keep walking and politely decline to take part.

            1. seven of five Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: How do we combat this?

              Sure, just walk away when a police officer tells you to stop.

              1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                Re: How do we combat this?

                Technically, we still have "policing by consent" in this country, so unless you are being arrested, or stopped under a court order (e.g. for a legal stop-and-search*), you don't have to cooperate with the police. Whether this is sensible is another matter, but the Met do sound like several of their officers could do with a refresher course. See also: taking photographs of the police.

                Compare and contrast with other countries where policing is not by consent, such as the US, where you have to do what the cop says, or risk getting shot, or at best cuffed and beaten.

                *Let's not get into the subject of stop-and-search, and the legality of such under different circumstances, as once you start digging into that one, and into the issues it throws up like ethnic bias, you can get mired for quite some time...

              2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

                Re: How do we combat this?

                As I stated earlier, British citizens are under no obligation to stop unless the Police officer intends to perform a search for weapons or drugs, or perform an arrest. So if they stop you, be polite, ask them why they stopped you, explain your rights and walk away. If you don't exercise your rights they get weak.

                1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
                  Holmes

                  Re: How do we combat this?

                  Easy to say, but I expect anyone trying that is likely to get nicked for being 'obstructive'.

                  Protesting one's rights further will be seen as arguing with the cops i.e. resisting arrest.

                  Making any defensive action against the ensuing violence as the cops attempt to grapple you to the ground so they can cuff you will be seen as assaulting a police office.

                  They'll make up the rest from there, disorderly conduct, likely to cause breach of the peace etc.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: How do we combat this?

                    plant some Child Abuse imagery on your phone / claim you were leching at kids

              3. Boo Radley

                Re: How do we combat this?

                Yeah, and in the US that could well get you shot in the back.

              4. Flywheel Silver badge

                Re: How do we combat this?

                .. and just make sure you're not a bit brown, maybe sweating a bit and carrying a backpack.

              5. CountCadaver Bronze badge

                Re: How do we combat this?

                quick nick there "refusing to comply with the orders of a uniformed police officer"

                That or tasered / shot / CS sprayed after being dragged to the ground and assaulted for refusing to stop

            2. localzuk

              Re: How do we combat this?

              Legally, you are correct. Sadly, legality and reality don't always match. What actually would happen is you would stop, as not stopping might cause them to try and detain you by force by making something up. Your only recourse is after the fact. If you have been detained without due cause, you can complain/sue. It is always inadvisable to ignore a police officer telling you to stop.

              1. Hairy Scary
                Stop

                Re: How do we combat this?

                Remember the blind man that got tasered for not stopping, he didn't know they were shouting at him.

                https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-lancashire-20966632

                Aye always better to stop for your own health's sake.

                1. Cardinal

                  Re: How do we combat this?

                  @Hairy Scary

                  "Mr Farmer, who is registered blind and has suffered two strokes, said he had thought he was being attacked by thugs."

                  .

                  Well of course LOTS of crims put on shades and tap their way along the street using a white painted samurai sword.

                  Easy mistake to make ...innit...

                  Could have been right about the thugs though....

          2. jmch Silver badge

            Re: How do we combat this?

            "you have the right not to be filmed, but if you exercise that right, you will be stopped and questioned"

            In other words, you don't have the right not to be filmed.

        2. Lintfordpickle

          Re: How do we combat this?

          I get what you're saying, the problem for me is it just sounds like A LOT of hassle just to pop to the shop for a bottle of milk.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How do we combat this?

          "He swore at the Police officer who detained him, and the fine was for that"

          Swearing at a police officer is not, however, a public order offence (according to the Court of Appeal, a police officer can expect to be sworn at, and thus cannot experience alarm or distress when it happens - Jacqui Smith as the then Home Secretary declined to appeal that one). Swearing at a police officer and someone else hearing it, however, is, as the passer-by can experience alarm or distress.

          1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

            Re: How do we combat this?

            @AC: "Swearing at a police officer is not, however, a public order offence"

            Which is a point I've made elsewhere at El Reg concerning this case. His mistake their was accepting an on the spot fine, this case would never had gone as far as court if he'd opted for trial, So the chap made two mistakes, first, he should have just politely declined the invitation to show his face and not given the Police any excuse, and he shouldn't have accepted the fine after he failed the first.

            We just need to get this story straight though, he was not fined for not showing his face, he swore and voluntarily accepted a fine over that. Seems a lot of downvoters aren't grasping this.

          2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
            Childcatcher

            Re: How do we combat this?

            "Swearing at a police officer and someone else hearing it, however, is, as the passer-by can experience alarm or distress"

            Oh no. Won't someone please think of the children.

            1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
              Paris Hilton

              Re: How do we combat this?

              Constantly, but I'm still not entirely sure how they got voted in...

              Oh sorry, you meant ones who'd then ask awkward questions over what those words mean? Yeah.. I still don't know how they got voted in...

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: How do we combat this?

            "Swearing at a police officer is not, however, a public order offence". The lying fuck of an officer claimed alarm, harrasment and distress and I copped a fine and am now an official criminal. The officer concerned, for the record, can still fuck right off. And when they get there, they can fuck off some more.

            Want to bet? I have a conviction for that very thing.

      3. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: How do we combat this?

        And somehow the UK govt has the gall criticisimg China.

        We used to criticize East Germany under Erich Honecker who's secret police (Stasi) employed some 2.5% of the population.

        We now do things that would have been the Stazi's wet dream. No one mentions them any more, I wonder why ? It is not just that 30 years have gone by.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: How do we combat this?

          The former STASI headquarters in East Berlin is now home to a fascinating museum. It is to the credit of the German people that when the Berlin Wall fell and the building was stormed, they managed to preserve many of the very well-kept records that the people in the building were trying to destroy.

          It's within walking distance of the Brandenburg Gate and I'd highly recommend it to anyone visiting Berlin as an insight into how far Bureaucracies can go.

          Incidentally, it's also the filming location for the series Deutschland 83, where scenes set in the STASI headquarters were actually set in the STASI headquarters. The offices there are so well preserved, the only noticeably anachronistic thing is the modern lighting.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How do we combat this?

          Been saying this for a long time, even challenged the SNP over this and was accussed by them of various things, being "unreasonable" and "alarmist" being the mild end.

          Than again I see the parallels between them and various autocratic regimes - mobilised "movement" - check (YES Scotland), army of followers ready to intimidate anyone who disagrees with the party line - Check (Yes Scotland and the various Cybernats, plus their own elected members), accussing the press of lying - check (Biased BBC, Misreporting Scotland etc etc etc), Centralising power in one state police force - Check, interfering in the private lives of the public - check (Named Person, Facial Recognition rollout, mandating what other folk's kids eat in schools), making grand announcements and then quietly walking them back / doing something wholly different - check (DAWAP, Carers, shock collar "ban" etc etc etc)

          Just waiting for the statues of the "leader" to start appearing as well as the mandatory portraits in public places

          1. Someone Else Silver badge

            Re: How do we combat this?

            Just waiting for the statues of the "leader" to start appearing as well as the mandatory portraits in public places

            Already well on the way...notice how many phallic reproductions say "TRUMP" on them?

          2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: How do we combat this?

            Hmmmm - AC anti-Scot troll way off topic. Recommend s/he or it (could be a bit given the poor structure) is ignored.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: How do we combat this?

              Oh god another SNP bot

              Yet again Scottish != SNP

              Plenty of Scots inc myself do NOT support the SNP due to their incompetence, authoritarian nature and cult like approach.

              Incompetence - NHS waiting lists in Orbit, NHS staffing shortages (and no serious attempt made in 12+ yars to plan for this and get people trained to take on roles), Carseview Hospital patient abuse scandal (still rumbling on and still attempts made to bury it by NHS Tayside and Scotgov), GRA watering down to placate the transphobes in their party, watering down of DAWAP into a tartan hued clone of PIP, minister even admits "structurally identical to PIP", school attainment dropping like a brick, councils criticially underfunded, roads worse than some 3rd world nations with potholes and cracks everywhere you look, council services slashed, money squandered on vanity projects, handouts given to their friends in the transport sector and no guarantee the haulage industry won't be next, 40+ year old rolling stock vaunted as "new"

              Never an answer to any of the above points from the NatBots, wonder why? Likely as SNP High Command haven't told them what to say or have told them to keep schtum about it and / or insult the messenger...

              1. HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

                Re: How do we combat this?

                It's a little off-topic but I've always wanted to know this: what the Hell would the SNiPpers do were they to win?

                What is their Grand Design if they ever get "independence"? [Noting that, at least recently, their plan for pseudo-independence included distant overlordship by the E.U. from Strasbourg, a place even less "Scottish" than London.]

                What are they *for* once Scotland is "free" from the oppressive yoke of the Southerners?

                Would they, having achieved their manifesto's one singular aim, vanish quietly into the night, instantly ceding power to the next most popular Party?

                Do they *have* a contingency plan for "victory" or are they only interested in grabbing and retaining power, profits and privileges for themselves by ensuring the continuation of the Union which they can forever demonise?

                I'd love to ask their leaders but I'm fairly sure the questions would be ignored.

                1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                  Re: How do we combat this?

                  @AC and HelpfulJohn: First, I'm not a bot - I've been posting here for many a long year now!

                  AC - when you can point me to a government that doesn't have similar issues (not in detail, then in type), then I'll take your comments seriously. Yes, in principle, all of these things should have been dealt with, but psychiatry is in crisis throughout the UK, not just in Scotland, and has been for decades (I quit working as an RMN in England in 2004 because the entire job consisted of containment, not treating people properly). Most of this is because there has been no investment in training psychiatrists and RMNs nationally. Don't blame the SNP and the Scottish government for this problem.

                  That doesn't mean everything is hunky dory - yes, the Carseview scandal is atrocious. The inevitable scandals due anytime regarding Ninewells hospital and Dundee University, for example, are going to seriously damage the Scottish government. But, again, show me any country that doesn't have these issues - England certainly does.

                  HelpfulJohn - I don't know what your thoughts on Brexit are, but there is far less thought about what is to be achieved with that than with a Scotland independent from Westminster. Policies set in London are almost always not aligned with Scotland. Immigration is a clear case in point at the moment - Scotland is an open, welcoming nation that is happy to have anyone from anywhere as long as they ate willing to integrate. No educational or income requirements are needed. The utter muppetry coming from Westminster is going to hurt Scotland hugely. There are lots more areas in which Westminster and the fucking Tories are going to damage Scotland to get their own way, but thus post is too long already, and won't be read anyway.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: How do we combat this?

      Time to find a cosmetic or make-up of sorts that messes with the camera

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How do we combat this?

        I think I saw somewhere that people in China wearing those facemasks because of coronavirus have discovered that they throw off facial recognition systems.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How do we combat this?

      +1 for Ed Howdershelt four boxes quote.

    4. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: How do we combat this?

      ... hyperface clothing, V mask, IR LED hat ...

      of course, this will be worthless once they bring the gait recognition algorithms into play.

      1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

        Re: How do we combat this?

        Only if they also defund the Ministry of Silly Walks.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ""I would say it is for critics to justify to the victims of those crimes why police should not be allowed to use tech lawfully and proportionally to catch criminals.""

    Ah, this old trick, the burden of the proof. Not sure it is an english term, but certainly is, in France, "le fardeau de la preuve".

    It's been used for centuries to accuse people of anything, like witches that were to survive drowning when pushed, attached, in the water, to prove their innocence.

    Guess what, none proved it ...

    By the same token, I'm wondering if I can accuse this lady of being a peado unless she proves otherwise. Hint: you can't prove you haven't done something :)

    1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

      Hint: you can't prove you haven't done something :)

      That's why there needs to be even more surveillance see?

      Next step is cameras in your living room.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        >> Next step is cameras in your living room.

        They're already here and for some bizarre reason, people are buying them.

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          The smartphones go far beyond the capabilities of a simple camera. Worse still, it's the user themselves that choose to take it everywhere with them.

          Who, where and when are givens, how can be extrapolated from the first 3.

          All it leaves for the police to determine is the "Why". Given that 4 out of 5 elements are handed to them, it makes their job already much much easier.

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      @AC: "to catch criminals"

      Yet again the Police prove they are failing the 'Nine Principles of Policing', the test is that the Police deter crime, not solve crime once there's a victim.

      We need visible Police on the beat, not technology, not Police armed with Tasers, but real approachable people, being seen to Police the nation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Given the record of Plod Scotland (and the various forces that preceded it) that hasn't been the case in Scotland for 40 years or more. now its ALL reactive and even then try to avoid doing something (even when a crime has been committed) unless its a hot button issue that will get them positive press or a pat on the head, as well as harassing members of the press, threatening members of the public who are "difficult" or ask "awkward questions"

  4. AMBxx Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Not ethnically biased

    I think that means it identifies everyone incorrectly.

  5. Evil Auditor Silver badge
    FAIL

    Dick, what a twat.

    1. heyrick Silver badge
      Coat

      She knows dick about dick?

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Oh boy....

        Dick Dick before Dick dicks you....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When she was at the rank of Inspector how did people keep a straight face when she introduced herself ?

    Doesn't quite roll off the tongue as well as Inspector Regan, or does it ?

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Nor quite as testosterone filled as Inspector Callahan, nor as chic as Inspector Poirot.

      She is probably on the same par as Inspector Morse... Hard to imagine that John Thaw played two very different kinds of inspectors...my preference definitely being the first..

      By the way, you have now filled my head with the Sweeney theme tune. Dah da da, Dah da da, tum tum ti tum, tum ti da da...

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge
        Pint

        Me three, and it's available online to stream from certain sites... sigh. There goes the week

        Icon: it's what REAL coppers have for lunch

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge
    3. Caver_Dave
      Thumb Up

      Dr Kuntz

      I worked for large multinational electronics (and in those days mobile phone) company. I went to a meeting in Germany and was shown into a room with my colleagues where only one local stood waiting. He announced loudly "Right my name is Dr. Kuntz and my brother is indeed an inspector in the local police. Now you Brits just get over it!" At which point his colleagues trooped in for the meeting.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dr Kuntz

        In here, one local dude is called "Hannusse" which is pronounced as "anus" in french.

        For those asking, yeah, same term in english and french.

        Some people have names difficult to bear ... This lady also, on top of being a douche ...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dr Kuntz

          Is there an Inspector Fellatio in the Italian police force ?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Dr Kuntz

            I once had the acquaintance of a delightful young lady of Mauritanian extract (IIRC), who had the surname Twofanny.

    4. Alister Silver badge

      It's a good thing she wasn't in the army, she could have been a Private Dick...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >It's a good thing she wasn't in the army, she could have been a Private Dick...

        With promotion she could become Major Dick, and so proving the Peter Principle or is that the Pecker Principle ?

  7. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

    The database [...] is thought to contain 12.5 million faces - a far cry from the claim that only “serious crime” is considered by the system.

    With the definition of 'serious' constantly shifting depending on who operates this system, until 'serious' includes protesting fracking, chlorine chickens or privarisation of the NHS or uncovering corruption of the ones running the system.

    1. Dave Schofield

      >With the definition of 'serious' constantly shifting depending on who operates this system, until 'serious' includes protesting fracking, chlorine chickens or privarisation of the NHS or uncovering corruption of the ones running the system.

      They are already trying to classify Extinction Rebellion as a terrorist group...

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
        Coat

        Come on now, they clearly said that was a mistake afterwards. Just like it was a mistake to shoot that Brazilian plumber...

        1. seven of five Silver badge

          Yeah, whoops, sorry.

        2. phuzz Silver badge

          "Come on now, they clearly said that was a mistake afterwards."

          And then made the same 'mistake' again the next month.

        3. myhandler

          On another occasion an old guy in the East End who was carrying a table leg wrapped in cloth. He was taking the leg home to repair it. They thought it was a gun.

      2. imanidiot Silver badge
        Trollface

        To be fair "Extinction Rebellion" IS a borderline terrorist group...

        1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

          Borderline? They blocked the tube during rush hour. Prosecute 'em. Lock 'em up. All of them!

          1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
            Trollface

            Nah, for such grossly heinous crimes, burn them at the stake. The irony of them generating the very CO2 they are fighting passively-resisting against...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Remember RIPA powers

      Past experience shows 'serious' includes littering, not picking up after your dog, putting your bin out too early or late, and being in the wrong school catchment area.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Remember RIPA powers

        Likewise, being a country whose banks goes bankrupt can have your entire country labelled a terrorist state thanks to our laws. (Iceland, for those who don't remember)

  8. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Argument from ignorance or cynical rhetoric?

    “In an age of Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, concern about my image and that of my fellow law-abiding citizens passing through LFR [live facial recognition] and not being stored, feels much, much smaller than my and the public’s vital expectation to be kept safe from a knife through the chest.”

    This is mere polemical debating - and pretty incompetent polemical debating at that.

    [1] The tacit assumption that everyone subscribes to idiot networking is unsupported by evidence and is therefore untenable. If those who don't subscribe are having their privacy intruded on by those "services", that's evidence against the argument, not for it.

    [2] "not being stored" is irrelevant if as a result of being recorded a person can be stopped and challenged in the absence of obvious cause, particularly where the system is as prone to error as it has been shown to be.

    [3] "a knife through he chest" is a remarkably rare occurrence for the average member of the public. This is thus a false comparison, all the more as on several recent occasions when such incidents have occurred not only was the FR system not being used, but available intelligence clearly indicated the presence of the hazard before the fact.

    Couple the attitude behind this with the rise of "non-crime hate", as it's clear we're drifting towards presumption of guilt. It should be remembered that it's very hard to prove innocence.

    This is not a new problem - we should remember "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him." Cardinal Richelieu 1585-1642 but we must resist its emergence in our society as, with modern capacities for surveillance nobody will be safe from suspicion.

    There's a sign on a wall in the movie Brazil that says "suspicion breeds confidence". Unfortunately it seems to, but its vital not to be confident of a falsehood.

  9. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Stop

    "database...comparing...to...suspected criminals...is thought to contain 12.5 million faces"

    IS THOUGHT to contain 12.5 million faces? Isn't this something that should be known for a fact or not? Especially considering that this system is alledgedly only looking for suspected perpetrators of "serious crimes".

    12.5 million people is more than 20% of Britain's population. It is probably 30% or so of Britain's adult population, assuming that the cops are not looking for 12 year-old "serious criminals". So unless London's police force is looking to nab 1/3 of British adults for some unexplained serious crime, the database is full of images of innocent, unsuspected people, whose images might trigger police harassment of other innocent, unsuspected people because those people look like one of the large majority of the reported 12.5 million in this database who are not involved or suspected in any serious crime.

    How does using such a large database of people make any sense? It's almost like you are trying to generate a ton of false positives. Much less the false positives that happen because Mr. Innocent Citizen happens to bear a resemblance to Mr. Suspected Drug Dealer or Mr. Alledged Knife Criminal.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: "database...comparing...to...suspected criminals...is thought to contain 12.5 million faces"

      > 12.5 million people is more than 20% of Britain's population

      FTFA:

      > The database used for comparing people walking past the cameras to pictures of suspected criminals contains is thought to contain 12.5 million faces

      I imagine a lot of them are pictures from CCTV of crimes in progress, not mugshots of people who have been arrested, and so there will be a fair amount of duplication. There were 675,461 arrests in England & Wales in 2017/18 excluding Lancashire (source)

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: "database...comparing...to...suspected criminals...is thought to contain 12.5 million faces"

        @JetSetJim

        So you are saying that London's cops have this database of faces that they are using for facial recognition, enhanced questioning, ID checks, maybe frisking, and possible arrest. This database of faces contains DUPLICATES of the same face because this supposedly accurate system can't tell the difference between a mug shot of bad guy X after he got picked up for whatever offense from a frontal CCTV picture of bad guy X breaking into a car or from a side CCTV image of bad guy X robbing a liquor store?? So this advanced facial recognition system can't even affirm identity in its own database to the point that it can de-duplicate its own data and affirm that it has three images of the same guy in its database, and settle on the one that best identifies this hypothetical perp?

        I think that right there, you just justified scrapping this system based on inaccurate identification and a demonstrated lack of truly being able to recognize an actual bad guy, vs. stopping a law-abiding person who just happens to look a little like one of these multiple images of the same suspect floating around in the database.

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: "database...comparing...to...suspected criminals...is thought to contain 12.5 million faces"

          I never said it was for for purpose, just offered an explanation of how they got to 12.5 million.

          As to deduping, perhaps they leave duplicates in as a face matching algorithm may match to reach instance with different confidence based on the image given to it (as you say, side profile, Vs full front views).

          I agree it's a steaming turd, though

    2. David Shaw

      Re: "database...comparing...to...suspected criminals...is thought to contain 12.5 million faces"

      just 12.5Million?

      Prüm, Prümpity, Prüm

      Prüm is a town in the Westeifel, Germany. Formerly a district capital, today it is the administrative seat of the Verbandsgemeinde Prüm. (it is where the ██████████ of the ██████████ Database ██████████ Prüm ██████████ extensions ██████████ Prüm DNA ██████████ ██████████ Prüm ██████████ sharing with USA'ians biometric ██████████ Prüm, Prüm, Prümpity, Prüm.)

      doomed.....we're all doomed Cap'n ██████████

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Imagine being named after a car

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That would be Ford Prefect, then ...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But while pushing a message that she welcomed public debate,

    come on, we all know it's just an empty figure of speech: "we welcome a public debate". It's there only to tick a box of "showing engagement with the general public" and "listening to alternative viewpoints". She doesn't give a flying monkey fuck about any debate, or what the plebs are thinking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But while pushing a message that she welcomed public debate,

      When her involvement in the public debate seems to go no further than attacking anyone who points out the flaws in the system, I have to agree with you.

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: But while pushing a message that she welcomed public debate,

      The public is free to debate all they want. She's not saying the Met welcomes public input on the matter after all.

  12. Paul Dx
    FAIL

    The old trick by those in power

    If you have nothing to argue a coherent case with then play the man, not the ball.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Oh say you can't see, by the dawn's early light..."

    I can't decide where that misquote is from... It's the star spangled banner or, for those who like a bit of dark humour in their music, the line from the star spangled banner appears in "Can I invade your country" by Sparks... (2006, so pre Trump, by the way).

    Either way, there's a line from the song Jonny Delusional which seems appropriate. (partly appropriate because it's by FFS)

    "paging Mr. Delusional you're wanted at the desk"

  14. rg287

    Given that individuals of BAME ethnicity make up 26% of the UK Prison population compared with 14% of the General Population, if they've trained the system on mugshots there's a case to be made that it may legitimately be less ethnically-biased than a system trained on a conventional or "representative" training set. This would also explain the gender bias of being more accurate on men than women (more men convicted than women, bigger training set). It possibly also exposes a racial bias of the Met's finest in pursuing prosecutions of BAME ethnicity suspects...

    Of course, it can only ever be as good as it's training data and if their training data is well-lit mugshots of front and sides, then it's no surprise that identification from street cameras in real-world conditions is rubbish. I wonder how long it will be before they start doing much more in-depth scans of convicted (or even suspected) individuals in order to provide better training data for the AI? Front-Left-Right gets multiplied across "chin up"; "chin down"; up-lit; down-lit and low-light. If a smartphone can do depth-mapping, the Police will surely be angling to collect such data.

    I wouldn't even be surprised if they've been pushing the Home Office to allow them to scrape the Social Media in order to add more "real world" photos to their training data (I'd be even less surprised if they've been doing it anyway on the quiet).

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      As you progress along the dystopian scale, the difference between an egalitarian dystopia and a discriminatory one narrows to a nicety. Better to avoid the dystopia in the first place.

      1. Imhotep Silver badge

        My guess is they read 1984, but mistook for a How To guide.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      It possibly also exposes a racial bias of the Met's finest in pursuing prosecutions of BAME ethnicity suspects

      Top be fair to the Met here, it's the CPS that pursues prosecutions, nominally on the basis of whether they think there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. The Met are just biased about who they stop and arrest in the first place. If you go after more BAME individuals, you're going to get more BAME convictions...

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        You can dig up an old Monty Python sketch (now over 50 years old) that has cops arresting people for such things as "Walking on the cracks in the pavement" and "Looking at me in a funny way". Not much has changed, obviously.

        Its a bit naive to think that the CPS diligently examines all cases to verify that all proper procedures are in place, evidence gathered and not tainted and so on.....this is the reality we'd like but the reality that we have tends to be a bit more disorganized.

        1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
          Happy

          I think

          you'll find that was Constable Savage from not the nine o'clock news

          "Being in possession of an offensive wife"

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I think

            "Being in possession of an offensive wife"

            Guilty. Serving a life sentence.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The victims of"

    I've seen people use that argument. When a parent died, others were telling me "you are a victim, why did the doctors not do such and such!!!" and wanted to make it a vigilante attack to get righteous retribution.

    I just told them the facts, the Drs did help, a lot. The cancer killed my parent, and was untreatable and vicious, not the Drs.

    Likewise, who are they blaming for tech that does not work, the victims or the criminals? If the tech does not work, be honest, and do your best with what you have instead!

  16. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    NIce to know that only the US police use racist technology..... Is that a choice or is the UK somehow innovating?

  17. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Myths

    ...that the software makes decisions - Dick says a human copper always makes the final decision

    This is sophistry of the worst kind; of course the software makes a decision by flagging a (probably completely innocent) passer by who will then have their collar felt by the plod (because the computer said so - does anyone actually believe the plod won't do that because you know terrorism, kids).

    Then we get this gem:

    ...and that the Met is being secretive about the technology - Dick says the Met has been “completely open and transparent about it.”

    Absolute excrement of male bovine - it took a FOI request to get any real information on these so-called trials.

    She is just a politician (the met has been that way for a long time) who should be fired; I would prefer a real police officer to be the commissioner.

  18. The Central Scrutinizer

    "I would say it is for critics to justify to the victims of those crimes why police should not be allowed to use tech lawfully and proportionally to catch criminals."

    Ah yes, turn it all around and blame the critics armed with facts. It's almost like a reverse form of victim blaming.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Have to wonder which specific crimes she's on about, that would have been prevented by LFR. Resigning myself to the answer being "all of them".

  19. Milton

    MI5 head "increasingly mystified"

    And if you're still not tired of senior people who should know better talking absolute shyte, this gem from today's Guardian:

    'MI5’s director general ... Sir Andrew Parker says he has found it “increasingly mystifying” that intelligence agencies like his are not able to easily read secret messages of terror suspects they are monitoring.

    'Parker called on the tech firms to “use the brilliant technologists you’ve got” to answer a question: “Can you provide end-to-end encryption but ... provide access to stop the most serious forms of harm happening?”'

    It would appear that mathematical literacy is not a required attribute for the head of Britain's counter-intelligence organisation. Nor even sufficient common sense to pick up the phone to ask someone at GCHQ for a quick sanity check on what he was about to say. Because they do include knowledgeable mathematicians, who (off duty) would have answered the question—

    “Can you provide end-to-end encryption but ... provide access to stop the most serious forms of harm happening?”

    —with: "NO".

    But then, the poor thing would probably have just continued being "mystified". Perhaps it happens a lot.

    1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

      Re: MI5 head "increasingly mystified"

      You don't even need mathematical.literacy, he should probably have had the humility and sense to accept the advice that some crypto experts have undoubtedly already given him.

      I sense the Dunning-Kruger is strong in this one, along with a good dose of arrogance to go with it. Precisely the type of person you would not want to lead your spy agency.

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: MI5 head "increasingly mystified"

      To be fair he grew up in an environment where Crypto AG was compromised for decades and there's that weird thing with the NSA and the Eliptic Curve 'random' number generator that was anything but. So he's obviously got used to the idea that faults can be baked into cryptography, at least such that the 'rubes don't know it, so he's just expecting more of the same.

    3. Stork Silver badge

      Re: MI5 head "increasingly mystified"

      I have not looked it up, but let me guess: Classics at Oxford?

      - Wrong, according to WikiPedia he did Natural Sciences at Cambridge. Oh well, he may have been trained to forget certain things later.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A knife in the chest...

    Is preferable to a bullet in the head fired by Cressida Dick.

  21. adam payne Silver badge

    Dick says the Met has been “completely open and transparent about it.”

    If this open and transparent then i'd hate to see secretive.

    She then claimed to be open to serious concerns about the system. “I am not of course arguing against criticism per se.

    Of course you aren't, you just ignore it instead.

    Dick claimed that “the tech we are deploying is proven not to have an ethnic bias.”

    OK the machine may not have but the officer may have.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
      Boffin

      RE: Dick claimed that “the tech we are deploying is proven not to have an ethnic bias.”

      Yet one of the mouthpieces with her went the opposite way, saying bias in the UK system has not been proven due to lack of evidence either way.

      Dick contnues being a dick, treating absence of evidence as evidence of absence.

  22. imanidiot Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Welcome to Airstrip One!

    Remember proles, trust MiniTru!

  23. Paul 14

    If ML doesn/t work well... you need more data!

    I can see the quandary here, which is that these facial recognition systems will continue to be inaccurate without more training data.

    But the easiest way to get more training data is of course to deploy the system in public.

    So those arguing that inaccuracy is a reason not to deploy the tech in public are missing the point, or perhaps being disingenuous; the tech will never become more accurate without public deployment.

    The trouble with focusing the debate on accuracy is that it won't be a problem forever, you're only delaying the inevitable deployment of a system trained with data gathered elsewhere or by other means.

    If you are opposed to seeing any kind of live facial recognition on the streets, accurate or not, you need to have the courage to argue against it from a morality/privacy standpoint rather than focus on accuracy, ethnic bias or any other problems that are inherently solvable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      GIGO

      With too much training data you end up just having the results... not calculating them. This is why proper ai/net training has specific and specialised training and/or testing data sets.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bias? Wot Bias!

    "Currently, the only bias in it, is that is shows it is slightly harder to identify a wanted women than a wanted man"

    So you're saying that there is NO problem with race but you have problems with gender?!?!

    Is it the New Romantics with their lip gloss or the old biddies with hairy upper lips causing the problem?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What next?

    Walking backwards to be illegal....

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: What next?

      How about wearing a loud shirt in a built up area during the hours of darkness?!?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What next?

      Treading on the cracks in the pavement ?

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: What next?

        But if you tread on the squares you marry the bears. What's a chap (or chapette) to do?

    3. hammarbtyp

      Re: What next?

      Being in possession of an offensive wife

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: Possession...

        Can we get them to rush that through and apply it retrospectively, to... let's say... plucking a number off the top of my head... 15 years ago?

  26. Captain Hogwash
    Flame

    Re: In an age of Twitter and Instagram and Facebook...

    They keep trotting out this same old guff without ever acknowledging that people choose whether or not to participate in the aforementioned.

  27. Greybearded old scrote

    Even if it was acceptable, it can't work

    I'll apologise in advance for my baby-level stats, but let's try some numbers.

    The Grauniad says that Oxford Circus it used by 80 million people a year. (https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/dec/15/oxford-street-london-pedestrianise-shopping-air-pollution-death-urban-nightmare) Divide by 365, that's 219,000 a day. 9132 per hour.

    Now I'll be generous and assume that there is a facial recognition system that is 99.99% accurate. 9132 * 0.0001 means that about 1 person per hour is falsely accused of being me. Who knew there were that many handsome old guys? That's just one person. Multiply that by a 12.5 million person bad boy list.

    What's that Skippy? The software is a hundred times worse than that? Oh dear, oh dear.

    That's before we get to the political question of the acceptability of mass surveillance of the (largely) law abiding community.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dick Head of the Met

    You couldn't make it up.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Dick Head of the Met

      It's almost as funny as an old fart (trump) being a world leader :-)

  29. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Training set and algorithm?

    Anyone know if the image recognition system has been opened up to independent auditing? It'd be nice to know what training set was used and how well it performed. Then to see the program itself. But I suspect these will be all buried under 'commercially confidential' legalese and very scary lawyers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Training set and algorithm?

      I am almost certain "ai" is just a new method of getting a patent/buzzword sale out of old tect. I've got some AI rag snd bones for blockchain processing...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anonymity criminalised

    If she has her way, public anonymity will be criminalised, next they’ll be coming for internet commenters.

    Buy your face mask / burka while you can.

  31. Grogan

    "The head of London's Metropolitan police, Cressida Dick" <--- So not your average Dickless Tracy then? heheh

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For those interested in the gory details of face recognition accuracy (and biases)

    https://www.nist.gov/programs-projects/face-recognition-vendor-test-frvt-ongoing

    and relevant to this use case (though based on older, less accurate algorithms)

    https://www.nist.gov/programs-projects/face-video-evaluation-five

    A couple of vendors have are using some interesting methods to remove biases of gender and race from their CNN based algos (at least the algos they submit to NIST), The accuracy of leading algos for static (non video based) recognition is astonishing (to me) having followed this area for many years.

    Separately, I seriously doubt the Met were doing a real time 1:Many search of 12.5 million faces - that would be a complete waste of time and they're (probably) not that stupid.

  33. PeteS46

    I'm a (something), which is legal, non-violent and quite usual nowadays. But if 'the powers that be' decide that (somethingism) is a threat to the state (probably because it will reduce the profits on some megacorp) then I'll be a criminal. And us (somethings) will be hunted down using, for example, facial recognition technology. 'For the greater good' to quote some spoof cop flic!

    Has no-one read '1984' recently?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020