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Home Office aims for facial recognition upgrade

18/08/17

Department begins procurement to support police use of facial biometrics against database

The Home Office is looking to upgrade the facial recognition capability of police services with further developments of the algorithms used.

Faces on computer screenIt has begun a procurement for a new matcher engine software to be used in the Home Office Biometrics (HOB) programme, with the lure of a £4.6 million contract set to begin from June of next year.

A spokesperson for the department told UKAuthority it wants to update the algorithms used to match facial images on the Police National Database, with the aim of getting a new system in place by 2019.

The matcher engine software would include a combination of biometric algorithms and components to match a facial image to that of a known person on the database.

The contract will also include associated services such as biometric accuracy testing, integration and system testing, data migration and early life support.

The move comes as speculation has intensified on the potential of facial recognition in policing. In June there were reports of South Wales Police making a first arrest from a crowd of people by using the technology, after it partnered with specialist NEC in a pilot around the Champions’ League Final.

But there have also been criticisms of the Metropolitan Police’s plan to repeat their use of facial recognition at the Notting Hill Carnival next weekend, with claims from civil liberties groups that it could lead to discriminatory policing.

Image by Sheila Scarborough, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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