Controversial facial recognition software used to take payments in North Ayrshire schools is to be suspended less than a week after it was introduced. 

The council communicated to parents this afternoon that the use of software would be suspended.

The decision was publicly announced on North Ayrshire Council's Twitter feed at 3.20pm today [October 22]. 

Introduced on Monday following the October break, the system scanned the faces of pupils at the tills in order to save time during the busy lunch hour.

It checks them off against a register of faces stored on the school’s servers and replaces the software that used fingerprint scanners.

The software was introduced by officers after the previous contract for a payment system had concluded. 

There was no political decision to introduce the software and it was not discussed by elected members.  

The biometric scanning tool introduced into nine schools in the region garnered the attention of national media this week, with the Guardian and the Financial Times penning lengthy editorials about its introduction.

North Ayrshire even got the attention of digital TV station GB News, which criticised the local authority over its privacy stance. 

Despite this, the council claimed 97 percent of parents have given their consent for the software, that has been designed to combat pin fraud and provide a contactless method of payment for school meals. 

According to North Ayrshire Council's FAQ for the software, the technology turns the child's physical characteristics into 'unique digital signature' to prevent cash from being lost or stolen. 

However, the authority has given parents the option to 'opt out' and use a pin card instead. 

North Ayrshire Council said that 97 per cent of children or their parents had given consent for the new system.

“Pupils often forget their PINs and unfortunately some have also been the victim of PIN fraud, so they are supportive of the planned developments and appreciate the benefits to them,” the council said.

The council has been approached for further comment.