Essex Police using LFR to tackle serious offences

Posted on 25 October, 2023 by Advance 

Today, Essex Police plan to deploy Live Facial Recognition (LFR) in Southend, followed by a similar deployment in Chelmsford tomorrow.

Image courtesy Essex Police

These deployments of LFR are to support policing in the identification of persons wanted for priority offences, to support law enforcement including the administration of justice (through arrest of persons wanted on warrant or unlawfully at large/ recall to prison) and to ensure and promote the safeguarding of children and vulnerable persons at risk.

Ahead of the targeted action taking place today in Southend and and tomorrow in Chelmsford, one of Essex Police's senior detectives said: “We’re committed to tackling those who pose the greatest risk to our communities."

Work by Essex Police officers to tackle violent, sexual and domestic offences has seen reports of these incidents fall over the past 12 months, while knife-enabled crime is also down.

Positive, proactive work has also seen the number of possession of weapons and drug trafficking offences increase – a sign that Essex Police officers are having more success.

As part of continued work to tackle high harm offences, Essex Police will be carrying out activity targeting offenders this week. There will be specific activity in Southend on Tuesday 24th October and Chelmsford on Wednesday 25th October involving the use of Live Facial Recognition (LFR) technology.

It will be the first time this technology has been used in Essex. Detective Superintendent Stephen Jennings said: “We’re committed to tackling those who pose the greatest risk to our communities and we’re utilising innovative technology to do this.

“This will help us keep the public safe and get justice for victims. Live Facial Recognition technology is targeted to focus on people wanted in connection with specific offences.

“The technology compares live camera feeds of faces against a predetermined database or ‘watch list’ of people of interest.

“Only images of specific people wanted in connection with high harm and/or violent crimes appear on that database. When there’s a positive match, appropriate action will be taken by officers on the ground.

“If you’re not on the ‘watch list’, your face cannot be matched.”

Det Supt Jennings added: “We take privacy very seriously and images of members of the public will not be stored.

“If you walk through an area where LFR is being deployed and you are not one of the specific people we’re trying to locate, your image will be immediately and automatically deleted. It will not be held on a database, it will not be remembered and it will not be kept.

“South Wales Police are providing the technology for this deployment and there has not been one single wrongful arrest because of their use of facial recognition.”