File on 4 has been tracking the roll-out of facial recognition tech across Britain’s streets, shopping centres and football grounds.
The Metropolitan Police has announced it will use live facial recognition cameras operationally for the first time on London streets. The force sees the technology as a vital tool in the fight against crime. But privacy campaigners say it's a 'serious threat to civil liberties.'
The pace is frenetic – new computer systems can watch thousands of people at once, with the most powerful able to operate at distances of over a mile.
They can do all of this in “real-time”, meaning everyone who passes by the camera can be scanned against a “watchlist” of suspects.
But technology like this means more and more innocent people are affected. Yet the public are not always explicitly warned, and neither are the regulators.
File on 4 has been given new details of a trial at Meadowhall shopping centre in South Yorkshire in which police and retailers worked together to scan millions of shoppers, looking out for three suspects and a missing person (the latter was found as a result).
It was one of several trials conducted by police and private companies, which went ahead despite requests from the Surveillance Camera Commissioner for police to ask him before implementing such schemes.
The legislation surrounding facial recognition is new and mostly untested, leading to calls for stricter, more specific laws to be passed.
Meantime, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner has called for a regime of inspections of the technology for both public and private bodies; a call backed by the veteran Conservative MP David Davis.
Facial recognition may be new, but it still begs an urgent answer to an age-old question: who watches the watchers?
Reporter: Geoff White
Producer: Helen Clifton
Editor: Carl Johnston
After The Flood
Few who saw the pictures of the devastating floods which hit the Yorkshire village of Fishlake will forget those images of houses and fields sunk beneath the waters of the River Don. But who knows what life looks like for the residents after the water has receded? Reporter Anna Cavell discovers a village fighting not only to get back into their homes, but also trying to find out what can protect them if the waters return.
Delays to insurance claims and businesses struggling to get back to work are some of the everyday tasks facing the village. But with many not expected to return to their homes for many months, will the close knit community of Fishlake village ever recover?
Reporter: Anna Cavell
Producer: Rob Cave
Editor: Carl Johnston
When Sophia was growing up, she had an imaginary friend. It was only later she learned that the little girl she played with in her mind was not imaginary at all, but a distant memory of an older sister.
The two had been separated when they were in care, and contact between them was soon lost.
It might sound like a Dickensian tale of misery, but it’s not rare for siblings to be forced apart whilst in the UK’s care system.
In England alone, there are currently more than 78,000 children living in foster care or children’s homes.
Many have brothers and sisters, but keeping them together is difficult.
File on 4 hears from the children and young people who have been split up, and hear how it has affected the rest of their lives.
When they can’t be placed together, experts agree that robust plans should be put in place to maintain contact between them. So why is it not happening?
If one child goes on to be adopted, maintaining contact with their brothers and sisters is far from straight forward.
And for the families who do adopt sibling groups, there’s concern that they’re not getting the right help to support those relationships.
Some experts argue that keeping siblings together shouldn’t always be the default intervention.
For some, placing them apart might be in their best interests but are the views of children always being taken into account when these decisions are being made and is the importance of sibling relationships sometimes being overlooked?
Reporter - Paul Kenyon
Producer - Emma Forde
Editor - Carl Johnston
Going back: The people reversing their gender transition
An increasing number of people are questioning their gender identity. Waiting lists for specialist clinics treating both children and adults with gender dysphoria are increasing, with some having to wait years to been seen. Many who transition to a gender different to the one they were assigned at birth live happy lives. But, File on 4 has spoken to some who now regret the taking of cross-sex hormones or undergoing surgery, and who are now detransitioning. They and experts working in the field of gender identity fear that other mental health issues are not being adequately explored before life-changing decisions are made and have told the BBC more help is needed for this vulnerable group.
Image credit; Natasaadzic\Getty
Medical professionals say shortages of commonly prescribed drugs are currently worse than ever before - impacting on patient care and potentially costing lives.
The government has banned the export of some medications from the UK in an attempt to protect dwindling supplies but desperate patients are still travelling abroad to get the medication they need or, rationing their supply or going without treatments entirely.
File on 4 examines the complex supply network behind the medication we’re prescribed and finds out how a single broken link in the fragile chain can impact patients, doctors and pharmacists alike. Speaking to worried insiders, exasperated clinicians and patients left too frightened to leave the house, the programme uncovers a long-running crisis at the very centre of our health care system.
Reporter: Adrian Goldberg
Producer: Steven Hobson
Editor: Carl Johnston
Image credit: Hiraman\Getty