Rape, drugs and robbery suspects arrested after police deploy facial recognition vans

The vans driving through Croydon Pic: X @truthtellerGB

Police have arrested seven men in Croydon following the deployment of mobile Live Facial Recognition vans in the borough.  

The men, aged between 19 and 49, were arrested for a range of offences including grevious bodily harm, rape, fraud, burglary, robbery and the supply of control drugs.  All the men remain in custody.  

These arrests are the first time Live Facial Recognition Technology (LFR) has been utilised in the borough, having been used previously in various London locations including Oxford Circus, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Square. The LFR van was seen stationed outside the Croydon Box Park on George Street.  

Croydon MPS announced on X on December 7 that they would be deploying LFR in various “key locations” across the borough, and it was in use to “find people who threaten or cause harm, those who are wanted, or have outstanding arrest warrants issued by the court.”  

Met police poster Pic: X @truthtellerGB

The LFR system contains a ‘watchlist’ of offenders. It is a carefully applied and overt policing tool to assist in locating a “limited number of people the police need to find in order to keep London safe”. Watchlist composition tends to be restricted to individuals suspected to be in the proximity of an area, and therefore where there is the possibility of an individual passing through an LFR deployment area.  

The LFR system works by analysing key facial features to generate a ‘mathematical’ representation of them, which is then compared against known faces in a database in order to identify possible matches of ‘persons of interest’.  

There are a myriad of privacy concerns and ethical issues considering LFR technology, but the technologically advanced initiative marks a great advancement in law enforcement tactics in Croydon. An X user, @larryg407 commented on the post “Excellent! But still against this concept! Invasion of privacy!” 

The high visibility deployment was part of a long term operation to address serious violence in the area. It was clearly signposted and local officers interacted with the general public, handing out leaflets about LFR and explaining the operation.

Superintendent Mitch Carr of South Area Command Unit which includes Croydon said : “This is a fantastic opportunity of precise community-based crime fighting. These seven men were all arrested on suspicion of serious offences which highlights how this technology can be used to keep Londoners safe.”

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