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Beyoncé crowd at UK concert scanned for ‘potential paedophiles’

Rhiannon Ingle

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Beyoncé crowd at UK concert scanned for ‘potential paedophiles’

Featured Image Credit: Kevin Mazur / Contributor / Getty Images

A Beyoncé concert in the UK used facial recognition to scan the crowd in order to spot any potential paedophiles and terrorists.

Earlier this year, the singer toured the UK with concerts in cities including Cardiff, Sunderland and London.

And the crowd at the 'Cuff It' singer's Cardiff show (17 May) were scanned for potential threats using facial recognition - with South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Alun Michael, revealing that it had become normal to use the tech since the Manchester Arena bombing at Ariana Grande's concert in 2017.

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The explosion in the foyer killed 22 people and seriously injured many more.

According to the BBC, the police commissioner went on to explain to MPs on the Welsh Affairs Committee that using cameras for crowd scanning is 'entirely sensible' as a means of protecting those attending concerts - and used the Beyoncé concert as an example.

As one of four of Wales' police and crime commissioners, Michael was giving evidence in Westminster as part of an inquiry into how forces tackle crime.

"The view beforehand was that a watchlist should consist of two sets of individuals," he said.

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Crowds at Beyoncé's Cardiff concert on 17 May were scanned using facial recognition technology. Credit: Kevin Mazur / Contributor / Getty Images
Crowds at Beyoncé's Cardiff concert on 17 May were scanned using facial recognition technology. Credit: Kevin Mazur / Contributor / Getty Images

"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."

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

The live facial recognition cameras work by comparing faces with a 'watch list' generated by police, with the CCTV footage then being recorded and kept for up to 31 days.

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However, there has been some criticism from human rights groups, such as Liberty's lawyer Katy Watts, who claimed that the tech 'entrenches patterns of discrimination in policing' and 'violates' the privacy of the public.

"There’s been a lot of misunderstanding thinking that images are captured and kept – they’re not," Michael explained.

South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner says using cameras for crowd scanning is 'entirely sensible'. Credit: Kevin Mazur / Contributor / Getty Images
South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner says using cameras for crowd scanning is 'entirely sensible'. Credit: Kevin Mazur / Contributor / Getty Images

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

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"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."

And if you don't come up on the watchlist, police say your biometric data will be deleted.

Topics: Beyonce, Celebrity, Music, Technology, UK News, Crime

Rhiannon Ingle
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