Friday, August 12, 2011

UK: Facial recognition in use after riots

Facial recognition technology being considered for London's 2012 Games is getting a workout in the wake of Britain's riots, a senior police chief told The Associated Press on Thursday, with officers feeding photographs of suspects through Scotland Yard's newly updated face-matching program.

Chief Constable Andy Trotter of the British Transport Police said the sophisticated software was being used to help find those suspected of being involved in the worst unrest London has seen in a generation.

But he cautioned that facial recognition makes up only a fraction of the police force's efforts, saying tips have mostly come from traditional sources, such as still images captured from closed circuit cameras, pictures gathered by officers, footage shot by police helicopters or images snapped by members of the public. One department was driving around a large video screen displaying images of suspects.

"There's a mass of evidence out there," Trotter said in a telephone interview. "The public are so enraged that people who wouldn't normally come forward are helping us - especially when they see their neighbors are coming back with brand new TVs."

Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged Thursday that police were overwhelmed by rioting that began over the weekend in London and spread across the country over four days. Mobs of youths looted stores, set buildings aflame and attacked police officers and other people - a chaotic and humbling scene for a city a year away from hosting the Olympic Games. (more)