UK announces £55m facial recognition fund in shoplifting crackdown

10/04/2024 | The Guardian

The UK government has announced a £55 million investment in expanding facial recognition technology, including mobile units that can be deployed on high streets to identify individuals wanted by the police, as part of a renewed crackdown on shoplifting. The package of measures also includes the increased use of GPS tagging for repeat offenders. 

As part of the investment, £4m has been allocated for mobile units that will use live facial recognition to identify individuals wanted by the police, including repeat shoplifters. The £55.5m investment will be made over the next four years, while the £4m for mobile units will be spent over the next year. The investment will come from the £240m investment in police productivity announced in the Budget.

In a statement responding to the news, Silkie Carlo, Director of digital rights group Big Brother Watch (BBW) said: "It is completely absurd to inflict mass surveillance on the general public under the premise of fighting theft whilst police are failing to even turn up to 40% of violent shoplifting incidents or to properly investigate many more serious crimes."

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Metrolitan Police, facial recognition

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