Police defend use of face scanner technology at Download following Muse criticism

Singer Matt Bellamy hit out at the Leicestershire police force for 'scanning your faces without you knowing'

Leicestershire Police have addressed recent criticism over face recognition scanners used at this year’s Download Festival.

The police force scanned the faces of 90,000 attendees at the Castle Donnington festival in June in a trial of new counter-crime procedures.

It was the first time the software has been used at an outdoor event in the UK, with police stating that images were compared to a database of criminals who target music festivals across Europe.


During his band’s headline performance at the festival, Muse‘s Matt Bellamy criticised the police’s actions during their rendition of the song ‘Uprising’.

Bellamy told the crowd: “Fuck the Leicestershire police for scanning your faces without you knowing”. Watch that incident below.

Now, Leicestershire Police’s Chief Constable Simon Cole has said that it is the job of the UK Parliament to decide “what is OK or not” in terms of such matters of privacy and crime prevention.

“For me it’s an area where technology has advanced probably quicker than legislation,” he told BBC Radio Leicester.

“The Police and Criminal Evidence Act was written in the 1980s – this kind of technology existed in science fiction films at that point and now it exists in reality. The law needs to change to take account of that.”


Rachel Robinson of human rights group Liberty said: “We really think that there’s a real need for caution here. The police [need] to think about their relationship with their communities and the broader impact that this kind of mass surveillance can have.”

Muse released their seventh album ‘Drones’ in June, reaching Number One in both the UK and US charts.

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