Facial recognition cameras used to scan for paedophiles in crowd at Beyoncé's UK concert

Police have defended their use of cameras at a Beyoncé concert.
Police have defended their use of cameras at a Beyoncé concert. Photo credit: Getty Images

Facial recognition was used on crowds at a Beyoncé concert in Cardiff, Wales in an attempt to locate known paedophiles, it has been revealed. 

South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Alun Michael, told a Westminster inquiry into tackling crime that they were targeted at the May 17 concert because "there would be very large numbers of young girls attending". 

He described using such cameras as "entirely sensible" after the 2017 bombing of a Manchester Arena during an Ariana Grande concert, which killed 22 people and injured over 1000. 

However, there have been concerns in the UK that the technology and subsequently captured CCTV images would be misused. 

"There's been a lot of misunderstanding thinking that images are captured and kept - they're not," he said. 

"The only image that is retained is of an individual who's identified as being one of the people you're looking for." 

Michael also revealed there were tight measures in place to ensure the system wasn't abused. 

"When there is a live facial recognition deployment I am informed in advance and told what the watchlist is. 

"It's an operational decision which I am, in live time, able to review and check. 

"The view beforehand was that a watchlist should consist of two sets of individuals," he told MPs over their deployment at the May 17 concert. 

"People known to be involved in extremism and terrorism in the light of the Manchester arena bombing - and secondly of paedophiles, because there would be very large numbers of young girls attending that concert. 

"That was announced in advance and reported to me, it wasn't secretive." 

The use of the cameras has been criticised by human rights campaigners amid concerns the technology "entrenches patterns of discrimination in policing". 

There was no indication as to whether Beyoncé was informed prior to the concert that the cameras would be used on the crowd.