BBC PM programme’s Chris Vallance reports that Facewatch has provided local groups of businesses with a technique to share their CCTV images of shoplifters and other impending delinquents. Nowadays it is giving shops the facility to create warnings if a face recognition system matches persons in the shared pictures to customers in their stores.
Facewatch ‘Thief Recognition’ CCTV on Trial in UK Stores
Simon is the creator of Facewatch, a system that assists businesses locally make and share watch lists or pictures of shoplifters or known bag thieves. The system, which has almost 10,000 locations listed, also support companies to quickly upload camera footage to the police. Currently, identifying a doubtful purchaser on a watch list depends on how much attentive the staff is. For this purpose Simon says that Facewatch, is now being tested using face-recognition camera systems.
Simon’s goal is to allow Facewatch to assimilate with all the major face-recognition camera systems.
“What you can do now is link your face-recognition system to Facewatch and it will pull down the watch list that’s relevant for your premises and your group.”
“Then, if someone walks into your premises, it will send you an alert.”
At present tests are being carried out in a small number of shops. Most just use trial images taken from business employees.
“It’s live in test sites, but it’s not in widespread operation yet.”
Simon is of the view that face recognition could help stop crime before it occurs.
“I know that sounds a bit like Minority Report but it is possible.”
“The people who are on the list are not guilty until they’ve been prosecuted and taken to court, and the system makes that very clear.”
Police services are already using face-recognition to detect people as much as they might with DNA or fingerprints. The biometrics commissioner Alastair MacGregor has cautioned that image databases and face recognition could be used to trace people’s actions by “combining widespread CCTV and access to a huge searchable database of CCTV images”.
Facewatch’s Simon Gordon knows about the work, but indicates that computers will be more beneficial in live settings as human brains aren’t exponentially increasing in power. Simon says the price of systems is subsidizing as their efficacy rises, and face-detection cameras could be integrated in every business soon.
“Probably by the end of next year, it will be almost like having a mobile phone.”