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Police chiefs back use of facial recognition app


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has highlighted the potential of a facial recognition app to support officers on the streets.

It said that Operator Initiated Facial Recognition (OIFR), which used the NeoFace algorithm developed by NEC, is currently in its trial stage by three police forces – South Wales, Gwent and Cheshire – and has been showing positive results with more forces interested in using the solution.

The OIFR mobile app enables officers to photograph a person of interest then check their identify without having to arrest and take them into custody.

The NPCC said it has an ambition to see a 100% increase in the use of retrospective facial recognition (RFR) by police forces to identify people of interest by May of next year, to lay the plans for the wider use of OIFR, and for it to be included the national roadmap for RFR technology.

It added that some forces are now trialing live facial recognition on a mutual aid basis, and that it wants to share best practice and gather insights on barriers and challenges.

Public support

The NPCC said that a YouGov poll has shown that a majority of the British public – around 60% – supports the use of facial recognition technology in policing, and that communities and victims of crime will see the benefits it provides to investigations and the pursuit of criminals.

It has highlighted a number of cases in which it has brought results, including the arrest of a man wanted on a recall to prison notice at the King’s Coronation last May, and the conviction of a stalker after repeatedly going to his victim’s place of work.

South Wales Police has reported that it identifies 200 suspects per month through the use of RFR, and the Metropolitan Police that it identified 149 suspects, some wanted for multiple serious offences, in a matter of days from 302 CCTV stills.

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