Three arrests in first ever Live Facial Recognition deployments
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Three people have been arrested, including one on suspicion of rape, as we continued our work to tackle violence and high harm offences through new technology.
Live Facial Recognition technology was utilised for the first time in Essex in Southend High Street on Tuesday (24 October) and Chelmsford High Street the following day (Wednesday 25 October), with the support of South Wales Police which owns the equipment.
The deployment was targeted to focus on a specific list of people wanted in connection with high harm offences, such as violent or sexual offences.
In total there were five positive alerts, with arrests made in connection with rape and robbery investigations, and an outstanding warrant.
There was another positive alert for someone we wanted to speak to in connection with an ongoing sexual abuse case and they will be voluntarily interviewed at a later date.
"Essex is a forward-thinking force"
Detective Superintendent Stephen Jennings said: “This was a really positive first deployment of Live Facial Recognition technology in Essex.
“Essex Police is a forward-thinking force and we are always looking at how new technology can help us keep people safe, catch criminals, and deter crime.
“As a result of this deployment we have three suspects in custody and have arranged an interview in connection with another investigation.
“This means that these investigations are able to be progressed as a direct result of our use of this technology.
“The vans also acted as a talking point with the public and gave us an opportunity to speak to them about its use and how it works. I’m pleased to say that the reaction we’ve had has been overwhelmingly positive.”
Two people were arrested in Southend on Tuesday
"If you're not on the watch list, your image is deleted"
Explaining how the technology works, Det Supt Jennings added: “The Live Facial Recognition technology compares live camera feeds of faces against a predetermined database or ‘watch list’ of people of interest.
“Only images of specific people wanted or suspected in connection with high harm and/or violent crimes appear on that database.
“When there’s a positive match, appropriate action is taken by officers on the ground.
“If you’re not on the ‘watch list’, your face cannot be matched.
“We take your privacy very seriously and images of members of the public will not be stored.
“If you walk through an area where LFR is being deployed and you are not one of the specific people we’re trying to locate, your image will be immediately and automatically deleted.
“It’s not held on a database, it’s not remembered, and it’s not kept.
“South Wales Police are providing the technology for this deployment and there has not been one single wrongful arrest because of their use of facial recognition.”
"We've thought carefully about using this technology"
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Mariner added: “We have thought carefully about this technology to ensure its use is proportionate and in the public interest.
“As part of that process we have briefed the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and he has assured himself, on behalf of the public of Essex, that the use of LFR cameras has been properly considered.”