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New ‘face recognition’ technology helps to crack crime

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ID Unit Officer Hilary Gazzard and ID Unit Manager Andy Ramsay demonstrating the 'NeoFace' computer system.

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Issued on 15/7/14 at 8:22 a.m.

Leicestershire Police is the first force in the UK test new ‘face recognition’ software which could transform the way criminals are tracked down.

It’s called NeoFace and it’s capable of comparing any digital image - such as CCTV or police body camera footage - with any photo held on the Leicestershire Police database.

The computer programme has been under evaluation for a couple of months and around two hundred suspects have already been put through the system, with a high success rate of identification.

It works by comparing dozens of measurements between key facial features. It’s impressive because it provides initial results in just a matter of a few seconds. The current system, although computerised, involves manually searching for possible matches, which can take up to several hours.

Chief Inspector Chris Cockerill said: “We’re very proud to be the first UK Police force to evaluate this new system. Initial results have been very promising and we’re looking forward to seeing what can be achieved throughout the six month trial.”

While the results can’t be used as evidence in court, the programme does give detectives significant help in developing new lines of enquiry.

Identity unit Manager Andy Ramsay said: “We have over ninety-thousand photos on our system and Neo-Face can compare someone’s image against our complete databases in seconds. Besides the speed it’s also impressive because it can even find family members related to the person we’re trying to identify.”

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