Basket
×

Your basket

Join The FSA

© Paul Corkrey

South Wales Police suffer facial recognition setback

The use of live facial recognition technology by South Wales Police is unlawful, according to a new ruling from the Court of Appeal which could have significant implications for football fans.

Last season, South Wales Police used facial recognition at a match between Cardiff City and Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium, leading to protests from supporters.

The Court of Appeal ruling follows a legal challenge brought by Ed Bridges, 37, from Cardiff and supported by civil rights group Liberty.

The court upheld three of the five points raised in the appeal – it said there was no clear guidance on where facial recognition could be used and who could be put on a watchlist.

The court also found South Wales Police’s data protection impact assessment was deficient and the force did not take reasonable steps to find out if the software had a racial or gender bias.

In October Cardiff City supporters were fiercely critical of the technology’s introduction at the match, which came despite supporters being assured previously that it would not be deployed. Restrictive “bubble”-style policing measures were already being in place.

The force’s u-turn led to fan protests, including supporters wearing Halloween masks outside the ground and displaying anti-facial recognition banners.

FSA Cymru’s Paul Corkrey said: “Football supporters are tired of being used as guinea pigs to test out new technology and new powers.

“Subjecting thousands of law-abiding citizens to facial recognition scanning without any consultation was out of order. This ruling should make the police think twice.”

The cost of the operation around the Cardiff City-Swansea City fixture, together with use of the controversial technology, and what it was meant to achieve, have all been brought into question by Cardiff City fans.

Questions remain over the technology, how South Wales Police use the data they gather, how they compile their lists of targets when scanning crowds, and its fallibility.

FSA caseworker Amanda Jacks said: “The Court of Appeal Judgement is very welcome.

“We hope if facial recognition is ever deployed at football matches again, it is only after consultation with supporter organisations who have been persuaded it is an appropriate and proportionate use of this technology at an event with a very low risk of criminality.”

Related Articles

Frank Soo: Potters pay tribute to South East Asian pioneer

Before Christmas Stoke-on-Trent inducted Frank Soo, the first player with Chinese heritage to play in the Football League who made more than 170 appearances for the Potters from 1933 to 1945, into the city’s sporting Hall of Fame – here head of our Fans for Diversity campaign Nilesh Chauhan tells us more about the event and Frank’s legacy…

ICYMI: Fun Police

VAR is extremely unpopular and if this farce from the Scotland game last night is anything to go by, it will remain so for the forseeable future. Scott McTominay’s superbly hit free-kick against Spain was ruled out because of some ethereal infringement – but no-one’s quite sure what. Ridiculous stuff from the officiating team.

FAQs: The Euros and Wales

Ahead of the European Championship next month, FSA Cymru’s Paul Corkrey has kindly answered some common questions that crop up from Wales fans looking to follow the team to Baku and through the remainder of the tournament.

Amar Cymru: New generation of Wales fans come to the fore

Wales last qualified for a World Cup in 1958 – the same year the modern hula hoop was invented – but could be heading to Qatar 2022 and taking a new generation of fans along with them in the process.

Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

Partners

  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Pledgeball