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09th Nov 2023

Beyonce crowd scanned for potential paedophiles at UK gig

Nina McLaughlin

Beyonce crowd scanned the crowd at her gigs earlier this year for potential threats, including paedophiles, by using facial recognition technology.

The ‘Virgo’s Groove’ songstress toured the UK earlier this year, with concerts in Cardiff, Sunderland and London.

BBC South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael revealed that it has become commonplace for artists to use crowd scanning technology ever since the 2017 Manchester Arena attack at an Ariana Grande concert in 2017.

Michael told MPs on the Welsh Affairs Committee that using cameras for crowd scanning is ‘entirely sensible’ for ensuring the safety of concertgoers and preventing terror attacks.

He added that due to the ‘very large numbers of young girls attending that concert’ they also scanned for paedophiles.

“There’s been a lot of misunderstanding thinking that images are captured and kept – they’re not,” the police commissioner told MPs.

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

“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.”

Michael used Beyonce’s Cardiff concert as an example of how facial recognition can be used to scan against ‘two sets of individuals’. For this concert, they checked faces against lists of paedophiles and terrorists.

Facial recognition technology has come under fire by human rights campaigners.

Liberty group has criticised using the technology, saying that it ‘doesn’t make people safer’ and instead ‘entrenches patterns of discrimination in policing’.