Cardiff vs Swansea: Fans should not fear facial recognition, say police

Football supporters have no reason to fear the use of facial recognition technology amid criticism of its use at Sunday’s south Wales derby, say police.

The system, which was also in use at October’s match between Swansea and Cardiff, is designed to identify and help remove fans who are subject to banning orders.

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Supporters’ groups have claimed it infringes their privacy rights, but Alun Michael, the south Wales police and crime commissioner, says “ordinary fans” should have no concerns.

He told Sky Sports News: “There are people who have been banned by the court from being at the game and we want them to be caught and prevented from being there.

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“The vast majority of decent people, who just want to go and see a game of football, can do it and can take their sons and daughters knowing they are safe to do so.

“If your image isn’t that of someone who is on the watchlist and is somebody that has been banned by the court, your image is deleted virtually instantaneously.

“There is no question of retention, as there is for instance with CCTV in the street. So ordinary members of the public – decent fans who are coming to watch a football game – need have no concern whatsoever.”

The technology works by using cameras in the stadium to scan faces in the crowd and cross-reference them with existing police photos.

If any possible matches with those handed banning orders are identified, they are quickly flagged to officers. Images and data of those not on the police watchlists are deleted immediately.

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