NCP to use facial recognition cameras

Daily Mail
06.08.2010
By Mail Online Reporter

Big Brother facial recognition cameras being rolled out in NCP car parks

British citizens are the most watched people on Earth. Each UK citizen is caught on camera an average of 3,000 times a week. And it’s about to get worse.

New facial recognition cameras are now being trialled in car parks in a bid to identify potential car thieves.

NCP is testing the controversial ‘Big Brother’ cameras in a number of Manchester car parks.

Footage of people entering the company’s car parks will be automatically scanned. Their faces will be checked to see if they match pictures of known or suspected car thieves held on the company’s own database.

NCP says the system will allow staff to protect vehicles by taking early action against crooks.   But privacy campaigners have slammed the use of the technology - which will see thousands of ordinary car park users snapped and electronically analysed - saying it is invasive.

The technology is being tried out in a number of the company’s 40 car parks in Greater Manchester - including The Grand multi-storey in Chatham Street, Piccadilly.

If successful, it will be extended across the country.

NCP said the technology is capable of recognising millions of human faces, even recognising individuals if they do not look straight at the camera.

If a person whose face appears in the company’s database of criminals enters the car park, an alert will sound in the Manchester city centre control room.

Pictures of all people who enter the building will not be kept on file but instantly compared to those faces already in the database.

Lee Holland, NCP’s regional director, said: ‘We hope that our customers will view this as a positive move to help improve the security we offer at our car parks.  Our aim is to help customers to feel comfortable that they are parking in an environment which is extra-vigilant when it comes to dealing with the small minority involved in car crime.’

But David Page, from the No2ID privacy campaign group, slammed the move. He said: ‘If you are an innocent person who happens to look a bit like a criminal, I would be worried about what the response would be. What would happen if you were wrongly added to this database? What recourse would you have? Would you be banned from every one of NCP’s car parks?’

And legal experts said private companies could get in trouble if they compiled information about individuals without permission.

Greater Manchester Police said it did not share information with NCP but said it was ‘working closely’ with the firm and would respond to call outs.

John Sargeson, a crime reduction adviser with the force, said: ‘We currently do not link our GMP databases with external companies because of data protection issues.’

Full article

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