Facewatch ‘thief recognition’ CCTV on trial in UK stores

Until now, Facewatch has provided local groups of businesses with a way to share their CCTV images of shoplifters and other potential offenders. It is now giving shops the ability to generate alerts if a face recognition system matches individuals in the shared pictures to customers in their stores, the BBC reports.
The scheme, which has more than 10,000 premises registered, also helps businesses quickly upload camera footage to the police. The 13th police force has just "come on board". At present, spotting a dubious customer on a watch list relies on vigilant staff, but Facewatch software is now testing using face-recognition camera systems.
Facewatch thinks face recognition could help prevent crime before it happens. "I know that sounds a bit like Minority Report but it is possible,"  the founder of Facewatch says.
A pre-emptive "Can I help you sir?" may forestall a crime, but Renata Samson, of the privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, is wary.
"The idea that pre-crime can be stopped is a worry, aren’t we all innocent until proven guilty?" she says.
The price of systems is falling as their effectiveness increases, and face-detection cameras could soon be within every business’s reach. "Probably by the end of next year, it will be almost like having a mobile phone,"