The role of surveillance cameras have become an integral part of society – and National Surveillance Camera Day highlighted the importance of its use in Britain.

Yet there are controversial talking points, most notably with the role of facial recognition software which is used to spot criminals.

But how understood is the software? Hannah Parsons, Principal Associate Solicitor at DAS Law, has compiled a what-you-need-to-know guide about the law when using facial recognition software.

Is facial recognition legal in the UK?

Facial recognition techniques have been used on a trial basis since 2016 at events such as the Notting Hill Carnival and Remembrance Day 2017.

The Metropolitan Police have self-imposed conditions on its use to ensure compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998, especially the right to respect for private and family life (Article 8).

Facial recognition will only be used unless certain conditions are met, including:

• The overall benefits to public safety must outweigh any potential public distrust in the technology.

• It can be evidenced that using the technology will not generate gender or racial bias in policing operations.

• Each deployment must be assessed and authorised to ensure it is both necessary and proportionate for specific policing purposes.

• Operators are trained to understand the risks associated with use of the software and understand they are accountable.

• Both the MPS and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime develop strict guidelines to ensure that deployments balance the benefits of this technology with the potential intrusion on the public.

Can I install face recognition cameras on my property?

Ms Parsons said it is highly unlikely that someone would be able to install facial recognition technology at their property unless they had a specified purpose.

But in cases where a member of the public has found someone was invading their right to privacy with the use of facial recognition, they should report that potential breach of data to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

She added that it should also be reported to the police if any criminal act had been committed.

Can the public appeal a decision to install or use facial recognition cameras?

There is no legal basis on which the public can appeal against the installation of a camera.

But the Biometrics Commission, created by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, sets out general ethical principles that should be applied to any trial of live facial recognition technology.

It includes people being informed when a trial is conducted and its location, as well as a contact where further information can be obtained.

Police can be challenged by the public if they were to feel that their privacy was being invaded through unlawful recording. But if there is legitimate aim and the oversight and regulation framework outlined is met, the use of technology can be justified.

Can I sue the police if I’m incorrectly identified as a suspect?

Ms Parsons said it is likely that a code of practice is needed to set out the parameters of when this tool can be used and exactly how this information is kept.

Police rely on adhering to the data protection rules - and will only keep images that can be confirmed as a match to a watch list of police suspects, missing people, and persons of interest to the police.

If an image is not matched with this list, it will only be kept on record for 31 days.

Am I allowed to cover my face when approaching a face recognition camera located in a public space?

Police have the power under Section 94(227) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to require removal of facial coverings in England and Wales.

This is done in cases where police feel they are being worn for the purpose of concealing identity - and if they believe incidents involving violence may take place in any locality.

In practice it may be that the removal of the facial veil will be conducted in a private room and by an officer of the same sex as the individual.