England’s Cheshire county is outfitting its law enforcement department with facial recognition technology. The Cheshire Constabulary will be using facial recognition to speed up its investigations, and to try to identify people they encounter in the street.
In that regard, the Constabulary explained that it will be using two forms of facial recognition. Retrospective Facial Recognition (RFR) gives the police a way to identify someone after an event has occurred. The technology lets them pull a face from a photo or CCTV footage, and run a search to see whether or not that person is already registered in a police database. If the system does generate a match, the information can be used to further an investigation.
The other tool being deployed is Operator Initiated Facial Recognition (OIFR). The utility is delivered through an app that can run on a standard smartphone, and it gives the police the ability to take a photo of someone on the street and then run a search to identify that person in real time. The Cheshire Constabulary suggested that the service can help in situations in which they do not believe that someone has given them real identifying information, or in situations in which someone is injured, drunk, or otherwise unable to identify themselves.
The Constabulary claimed that will not be deploying any live facial recognition systems, though it is worth noting that the OIFR tool offers real-time identification capabilities, even if it cannot be used for automated mass surveillance. The police agency indicated that OIFR can only be used in select situations, though it did not elaborate on what (if any) safeguards have been put in place to prevent abuses of the system. Having said that, the system cannot identify any faces that have not yet been logged in a police database.
The OIFR system utilizes the NeoFace facial recognition solution from NEC. The Edmonton Police Service also announced that it was using NeoFace earlier this year. The UK’s Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner has argued that the police should have access to facial recognition tech, though he does believe that it should not be used in some situations.
June 21, 2022 – by Eric Weiss