LIVE facial recognition technology being trialled by police has “significant flaws” according to research by Essex University.

Academics raised concerns about Metropolitan Police procedures, practices and human rights compliances during the trials, concluded that four out of five suspects picked up by the technology were innocent and said the system could be subject to legal challenge in court.

The system uses special cameras to scan the structure of faces in a crowd of people to create a digital image, comparing the result against a watch list made up of pictures of people who have been taken into police custody.

If a match is found, officers at the scene where cameras are set up are alerted.

Criminologist prof Peter Fussey said: “This report was based on detailed engagement with the Metropolitan Police’s processes and practices surrounding the use of live facial recognition technology (LFR).

“It is appropriate that issues such as those relating to the use of LFR are subject to scrutiny, and the results of that scrutiny made public.

“The Metropolitan Police’s willingness to support this research is welcomed. The report demonstrates a need to reform how certain issues regarding the trialling or incorporation of new technology and policing practices are approached, and underlines the need to effectively incorporate human rights considerations into all stages of the Metropolitan Police’s decision making processes.

“It also highlights a need for meaningful leadership on these issues at a national level.”

Human rights law specialist Dr Daragh Murray added: “This report raises significant concerns regarding the human rights law compliance of the trials.

“The legal basis for the trials was unclear and is unlikely to satisfy the ‘in accordance with the law’ test established by human rights law.

“It does not appear that an effective effort was made to identify human rights harms or to establish the necessity of LFR.

“Ultimately, the impression is that human rights compliance was not built into the Metropolitan Police’s systems from the outset, and was not an integral part of the process.”

But Duncan Ball, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, said the Met was "extremely disappointed with the negative and unbalanced tone" of the research and insisted the pilot had been successful.

He said: "This is new technology, and we're testing it within a policing context.

"The Met's approach has developed throughout the pilot period, and the deployments have been successful in identifying wanted offenders.

"We believe the public would absolutely expect us to try innovative methods of crime fighting in order to make London safer."