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Cheshire joins forces rolling out facial recognition technology

Cheshire has today announced that they will be using facial recognition software following a trial with their Roads and Crime unit.

Cheshire will now be using two forms of facial recognition; Retrospective Facial Recognition (RFR) and Operator Initiated Facial Recognition (OIFR), although they currently have no plans to use Live Facial Recognition.

Both tools are designed to be used to identify people whose images are held on the Police National Database.

RFR will be used retrospectively after an incident takes place and comparative images can be taken from CCTV or mobile phone footage.

An operator and investigating officer will review any matches.

Meanwhile, OIFR will be available to officers in the street or by the roadside. Officers would take a photograph of a person’s face and then compare it to a reference image database.

This would be used in cases such as where a person is believed to have given an officer a false identity but it can also be used in cases where a person is unable to provide details because they are unconscious or seriously injured.

It will also be able to be used in certain other cases including where an individual is deceased, reported as a missing person or wanted by courts.

An officer would also review matches in this case.

A trial with the Roads and Crime unit using the latter software has already taken place.

Facial recognition would only be able to identify those whose images are held in the police database and images taken for facial recognition would not be retained after the search.

Assistant Chief Constable Matt Welsted said: “Facial recognition is the latest capability that is provided to officers to improve our response in achieving justice more efficiently and making the county a hostile place for criminals to operate.

“Facial recognition will not replace traditional means in identifying those who have committed a crime but adds to our arsenal and modernising the capability of our frontline.

“It’s important to remember that officers have always been able to spot a person who is wanted for a crime and stop them in the street but with this technology, we will be able to increase the speed and accuracy in the way in which this can be done – and dismissed efficiently.

“This technology will allow us to prevent harm and help those in need in our community and it is just one of the other ways in which we are arming ourselves to target known offenders who are intent on committing crime in Cheshire.”

In March Authorised Professional Practice was published for forces planning on using Live Facial Recognition which would compare a live camera feed of faces against a watch list in real time.

The Met and South Wales are among forces using live facial recognition technology.

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