Pledges by the UK government that its use of biometric data in law enforcement would be limited to, for example, the most serious crimes, are beginning to sound hollow.
The Times is reporting that police minister Chris Philp wants live facial recognition used in prosecuting shoplifters. He met with Facewatch Founder Simon Gordon and Home Office officials recently to discuss the technology’s potential benefits. Photos of known shoplifters should be compared to the police’s national biometric database of criminals.
Quoting national crime statistics, The Times says 339,000 cases of shoplifting were recorded during the 12 months ending with February. Only 14 percent of those cases ended with charges being filed. Fifty-four percent were closed with no subject being identified.
The British Retail Consortium, however, says the problem is far worse.
Eight million instances of shoplifting in the United Kingdom happened in the 12 months ending with February. Losses total about £1 billion, or US$1.3 billion.
Only London’s Metropolitan and South Wales police use live facial recognition software. Both departments use NEC‘s Neoface V4.1 for biometrics matching.
Shoplifting is gaining attention in a way that would go hand in hand with facial recognition.
Richard Holden, a transport minister, feels that more shoplifters should go to jail even if it means building more prisons, according to The Times piece.