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January 15, 2006

UK police to explore face recognition technology

Police in the UK could soon be able to utilize a national mugshot database after a government agency indicated its intention to evaluate the benefits of face recognition technology.

By CBR Staff Writer

Upon receiving a mandate from the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Police Information Technology Organization is to develop a business case for the deployment of face recognition technology on a national basis for the police service.

According to PITO, the creation of a national mugshot database is a pre-requisite for such a capability. PITO’s FIND project (Facial Images National Database) is currently endeavoring to deliver such a database.

PITO explained that the FIND project envisions the creation of a national database of facial images to which still/video facial images, marks, scars tattoos etc, can be stored, retrieved and shared between forces. Such images will be linked to a person’s criminal record on the Police National Computer and used to support the identification and apprehension of criminals.

Of the numerous benefits such a system is expected to deliver is a reduction in the amount of time taken to identify an offender and greater confidence in just causes for detaining suspects.

According to PITO, the biometrics team within PITO’s identification directorate is co-ordinating evaluation of facial recognition technology for future use and the potential for such a system to be used in conjunction with FIND.

PITO has recently awarded a contract to Aurora Computer Services to install their eGallery product which is based on facial recognition technology from Identix. A second contract has been awarded to U.S based company Geometrix Inc for their Active-ID 3D face recognition application.

PITO explained that these and other systems will be installed at PITO’s London offices to provide demonstrations of and assess the potential merits of the technology to police and concerned government departments.

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In a statement posted on the PITO website, Geoff Whitaker, head of biometrics at PITO is quoted as saying, Following the mandate from ACPO, we are in the process of assessing the ability of current face recognition technology to meet the requirements of the police service for automated identification. This program of work will ensure that we continue to be in a position to provide forces with expert advice on this and other biometric technologies.

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