UK Shoppers being facial scanned by Law Enforcement


For those living in Manchester and other Metros here’s the news which can trigger severe privacy concerns. A post published in ‘The Mail’ on last Sunday suggests that the faces of millions of shoppers are being scanned secretly with high tech surveillance cameras by the law enforcement.

The objective of this facial scanning is to track down missing persons and law evading criminals to prosecute them.

It’s said that all those who visited Trafford Center in Manchester have been clicked by the CCTV cameras installed in the region from the past 7 months. And the aim of this activity was to check if the faces caught on camera resemble anyone on a criminal ‘watchlist’.

It’s said that currently a pilot project titled Automatic Facial Recognition AFR Technology is running in some cities in the UK were faces from the crowds are being picked to arrest those guilty.

Greater Manchester Police have already begun to see success in the project as 14 of the suspects on large were caught during the project test. It’s said that 3 missing persons out of 30 were also tracked down by the law enforcement in the past 5 months.

Every year Manchester’s Trafford Centre is said to get 30 million visitors and from the past 6-7 months, almost all of the faces visiting the center have been stored in an encrypted database.

Although, Tony Porter the Surveillance Camera Commissioner asked to stop the practice as it was including innocent people in the hunt for a handful of suspects. A source from Manchester’s police department reports that the activity is still taking place behind the screens.

FYI, a similar project is reported to be taking place in Scotland. Visitors visiting the Noting Hill Carnival are being scanned by the Scotland Yard Cops to track down mischief creators.

Even the South Wales Police have also deployed AFR at more than a dozen public events including the Champions League Final, Rugby Internationals and the recent Elvis festival.

Such kind of surveillance activities might trigger privacy concerns among some. But the fact is that it also helps detect criminals on time before they commit another untoward incident.

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Naveen Goud
Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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