Police Using Facial Recognition Technology At Football Match

More evidence of the adoption of sophisticated biometric security measures by organisations and agencies can be seen with news that Police in Wales will be using live facial recognition technology during the Champions League final in Cardiff on 3 June.

Pilot Scheme At Match And Railway Station

A report on the Contacts Finder section of the gov.uk website was the first indication of the pilot that South Wales and Gwent Police forces will be running to use the latest ‘real time’ facial recognition technology at a major event, in order to try to match its 500,000 custody images in its Record Management system to any of the attendees (or persons at the train station).

What Is Facial Recognition Technology?

Facial recognition software typically works by using a scanned image of a person’s face and then uses algorithms to measure ‘landmarks’ on the face e.g. the position of features and the shape of the eyes, nose, and cheekbones. This data is used to make a digital template of a person’s face, which is then converted into a unique code. High-powered cameras can then be used to link to specialist software that can compare the camera image data to data stored in a database to find a potential match.

Real Time Recognition And Slow Search

The real time automated facial recognition (AFR) system which incorporates facial recognition and slow time static face search that will be used in the Champions League final pilot, will give police the chance to make a good match (no pun intended), and to stop subjects who relate to cases on their Niche Record Management system.

It has been reported that facial recognition cameras will be in operation at Cardiff Central train station, and in and around the Principality Stadium on the day of the UCL Champions League Final.

It is believed that approximately 100,000 people will visit Cardiff on that day, with 70,000 of them heading towards the stadium to watch the match. Both police forces believe therefore that it will represent a significant opportunity to test the capacity and the true value of the technology in managing policing in and around large events.


According to the .gov.uk contracts web page, the value of the contract for the AFR system to be used in Cardiff is £177,000, and it has been reported that and South Wales Police secured Home Office funding for the technology.

Not The First Time

Facial recognition has been used before at large outdoor events, such as at the Download music festival in 2015.


Although the Police have stated that their primary reason for planning to use the system at the final in June is crowd safety, critics and privacy advocates have commented that the use of facial recognition systems in events (and at train stations) is intrusive, and there are public data and privacy security concerns about happens to the data collected, and where, and how securely everyone’s biometric data is stored.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Despite the findings of a study from YouGov / GMX of August 2016 that showed that UK people still have a number of trust concerns about the use of biometrics for security, biometrics represents a good opportunity for businesses to stay one step ahead of cyber criminals. Biometric authentication / verification systems are thought to be far more secure than password-based systems, which is the reason why banks and credit companies have already started using them.

Facial recognition systems have value-adding, real-life business applications. For example, last month a ride-hailing service called Careem (similar to Uber but operating in more than fifty cities in the Middle East and North Africa) announced that it was adding facial recognition software to its driver app to help with customer safety.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply