National facial images database underway

A new facial images database is being developed so that police forces can use face recognition technology to match CCTV images with details of offenders.

May 8, 2008
By Paul Jacques

A new facial images database is being developed so that police forces can use face recognition technology to match CCTV images with details of offenders.

NPIA Chief Executive Peter Neyroud has informed MPs that the system, which is being developed in a pilot scheme involving Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Merseyside Constabularies, has generated a database so far of more than 750,000 facial images over the past 18 months.

Presently in the three pilot scheme forces, officers are able to search the electronic photos of offenders in their area to match them with CCTV. Some other forces have been given ‘read-only’ access.

The technology is still at an early stage and not yet able to search on the scale needed for a national database.

However the idea is that eventually all forces will store their images on a central national database to give immediate access for intelligence and investigative purposes.

The development of a national facial images database is just one element of a technological revolution in neighbourhood policing.

It is hoped that by the time of the 2012 Olympics, all beat officer will be equipped with advanced second generation hand-held computers which will be able to take and transmit fingerprints, download photos and details from the police national computer and access images from local CCTV cameras.

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