Strategic approach essential as police roll out facial recognition technology, says biometric authentication firm

09 August 2019

Facial recognition_street_stock shot
Facial recognition_street_stock shot

South Wales Police has confirmed its intention to deploy smartphone-based facial recognition technology – rolling out an app to 50 police officers for an initial 3-month trial. It will enable them to take a photo & immediately analyse it to determine: “Are you really the person we’re looking for?”

According to the BBC, the app uses facial recognition technology provided by Japanese firm, NEC, but the software's user interface was designed in-house by the police force itself. Its introduction comes at a time when the effectiveness of facial recognition technology is still being challenged in the courts. Officers have been using automatic facial recognition (AFR) technology to map faces in a crowd (by measuring the distance between facial features), then comparing results with images on a "watch list" – but the force's use of facial recognition technology has prompted a legal challenge by a man whose picture was taken by officers while he was out shopping.

Despite the annoucement by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and Home Secretary, Priti Patel to add a further 20,000 police officers across the country, it is widely understood within senior policing that the benefits to increased quality and efficiency of policing need to come from a combination of investment in technology and additional new police officers. Senior police executives view the use of biometric technologies as an innovation that can make a transformative step-change in digital policing. Some other forces have already trialled automated facial recognition technology, including the Metropolitan Police.

Jason Tooley, board member of techUK and Chief Revenue Officer at biometric authentication company, Veridium comments: “As police forces recognise that technology innovation for officers can drive improved policing, there is clearly a need to focus on how the technology can be adopted quickly and how public acceptance for this technology can be increased. The use of biometrics can support identity verification on-demand and at scale, as has been proven in many other countries where officers currently use consumerised technology.

“As part of a wider digital policing initiative, it is imperative for police forces to take a strategic approach as they trial biometric technologies, and not prematurely focus on a single biometric approach. This strategy could take advantage of other biometric techniques, such as digital fingerprinting, which ensure a higher level of public consent, due to the maturity of fingerprints as an identity verification technique. It’s clear that alleviating privacy concerns needs to be prioritised by the police within the overall strategy for using technology in this area. The public need to be able to see the value of the technology innovation through results in order to advance consent and acceptance by citizens.

“With the rapid rate of innovation in the field, a multi-modal biometric strategy that allows the police to use the right biometric techniques for the right scenario will accelerate the benefits associated with digital policing.”

About Veridium
Veridium’s authentication platform enables companies to secure identity and privacy in an all-digital world by proving you are who you say you are with biometrics and your smartphone. Utilising innovative, new technology like its 4 Fingers Touchless ID to ensure compliance, while also providing a convenient, secure experience, its authentication platform and proprietary biometrics provide strong authentication, eliminating the need for passwords, tokens or PINs – delivering multi-factor security with single-step convenience, at a lower total-cost-of-ownership than traditional MFA solutions. To learn more about Veridium, please visit

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