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Joe Purshouse

Lecturer in Criminal Law


Current work addresses the use of facial recognition technology & the likely legal challenges faced by the introduction of this technology.







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Joe Purshouse is Lecturer in Criminal Law in the UEA Law School. He focuses on human rights law. His current work addresses the use of facial recognition technology and the likely legal (human rights) challenges faced by the possible introduction and use of such technology in England, Wales, Scotland and New Zealand. He is also exploring the legalities that are associated with vigilantes (who are working to track down online paedophiles) and how this affects official police investigations.

Joe has published articles in major law journals such as Modern Law review, Criminal Law Review and Cambridge Law Journal. His PhD examined the law of DNA retention by the police.

Areas of Expertise

Socio-Legal StudiesFacial Recognition TechnologyCriminal LawHuman Rights LawCriminology


UEA Media Stars Award


UEA Media Stars Award



University of Nottingham

Ph.D., Law


University of Nottingham

M.A., Socio-Legal and Criminological Research


University of Nottingham

L.L.M., Criminal Justice


Sheffield Hallam University

B.A., Criminology



  • Academic Lead for LL.B Law with Criminology, 2019 to present
  • Law Executive Lecturer Representative, 2019 to present
  • Law Diversity and Equality Board Member, 2019 to present
  • Chair of Examiners, 2018

Media Appearances

Police should pause use of facial recognition technology

The Times  online


Technology has been unleashed on the world of football. Its accuracy has been questioned and it is disrupting some fans’ enjoyment of the beautiful game. It is not VAR, but AFR — automated facial recognition technology.

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Scots flag concerns over facial recognition

The Times  online


Facial recognition technology (FRT) is deeply flawed and must not be unleashed on the Scottish public until issues of privacy, human rights and reliability are resolved, MSPs have been warned.

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Before facial recognition tech can be used, it needs to be limited

The Independent  online


The technology can recognise people by comparing their facial features in real time with an image already stored on a “watch list”, which could be from a police database or social media account.

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Paedophile hunters: how citizen-led policing is putting people's lives at risk

UK Yahoo! News  


Online paedophile hunting groups are incredibly popular. Some attract hundreds of thousands of followers to their social media pages. “Hunters” have also proven somewhat effective in assisting the police. Evidence provided by paedophile hunter groups was used to support 150 of the 302 prosecutions for “grooming” a child to engage in sexual activity in 2017.

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Police disclosures that cost a man two jobs set a dangerous precedent

The Times  online


His lawyers argued that the disclosure to two potential employers of information relating to his acquittal on a single count of rape violated his right to be presumed innocent. Greater Manchester Police disagreed. They view such disclosures as a necessary precaution to protect the public, enabling employers to make informed decisions regarding the suitability of a job applicant to work in a position of trust.

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‘Paedophile Hunters’, Criminal Procedure, and Fundamental Human Rights | Journal of Law and Society


‘Paedophile hunters’ have attracted global media attention. The limited literature on paedophile hunters, which documents their emergence in contemporary liberal democracies, pays scant attention to how their use of intrusive investigative methods may threaten the procedural rights of suspects and undermine the integrity of the criminal justice system.

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Privacy, Crime Control and Police Use of Automated Facial Recognition Technology | Criminal Law Review


This paper discusses the police use of automated facial recognition technology (FRT) as a tool of crime control and public space surveillance. It considers the legality of the police use of FRT in England and Wales, with particular reference to the fundamental rights of those who have been subject to criminal process.

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Non-conviction Disclosure as Part of an Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate: Assessing the Legal Framework from a Fundamental Human Rights Perspective | Public Law


This article critically appraises the law governing non-conviction information disclosure as part of an enhanced criminal record certificate (ECRC) from a fundamental human rights perspective.

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Case Comment: Khuja v Times Newspapers Limited [2017] UKSC 49 | Journal of Information Rights, Policy and Practice


In what circumstances can an individual suppress through an injunction the dissemination of information identifying him as someone who has been arrested by the police, but not subsequently convicted of a criminal offence?

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Article 8 and the Retention of Non-Conviction DNA and Fingerprint Data in England and Wales | Criminal Law Review


This article considers the current approach to the retention of DNA and fingerprint data taken from non-convicted persons in England and Wales. Concerns are raised about the precautionary rather than proportionate approach of domestic legislators in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 provisions, and the continued unjustifiable interference this causes to the rights of such persons under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

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