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Police will be ordered to check CCTV from all thefts against official government photo databases in a ‘game-changing’ crackdown on crime.

Police minister Chris Philp said all cases of shoplifting, burglary and other thefts with security camera footage should be compared against the Home Office‘s passport and immigration databases.

Advanced facial recognition technology can now provide a match with even a blurred or partial images of an offender’s face, he said.

It means police will – theoretically – be able to solve every theft where there is footage of an offender, such as shoplifting.

It will also apply to doorstep thefts and burglaries where homeowners have images from video doorbell systems or CCTV security systems.

Police minister Chris Philp said all cases of shoplifting, burglary and other thefts with security camera footage should be compared against the Home Office’s passport and immigration databases

ITV News cameras catch a thief trying to steal booze from a south London store just a reporter was carrying out an interview about shoplifting 

‘I’m going to be asking police forces to search all these databases not just for shoplifting but for crime generally,’ Mr Philp said.

‘It could be game-changing.’

There are no legal barriers preventing tens of millions of ID photos held on file by the government being used for crime detection, Mr Philp told the Conservative party conference in Manchester.

The minister said he had been given a demonstration of the facial recognition technology by Sir Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Forces will be expected to carry out the database searches under new guidelines which require them to follow up ‘all reasonable lines of inquiry’.

The College of Policing announced in August that officers in England and Wales will have to consider all potential evidence – including CCTV – if it could lead to a suspect or stolen property.

Ministers believe that carrying out facial recognition checks as part of the investigation process could create a highly significant deterrent.

However, it is unclear how successful the database searches will prove if thieves are wearing masks, or whether it would drive wider use of masks by criminals.

A man is caught on CCTV stealing clothes from a John Lewis store

The databases which can be searched and compared with crime footage include the Passport Office’s records of all British nationals who hold travel documents, which is already used for facial recognition at border e-gates.

The Home Office’s Immigration and Asylum Border System also holds digitised photos of foreign nationals.

The minister said the move came as part of the Government’s new ‘zero tolerance’ crackdown on shoplifting.

The crime results in £1billion a year in losses, with retailers spending an additional £700million a year on security measures.

Mr Philp said: ‘I think it’s essential we clamp down hard and early on this.’

He said he wants police to turn up more quickly to shoplifting reports – including the highest category of immediate responses when storeworkers or security guards have detained a suspected thief.

The Co-Op’s Paul Gerrard told a fringe meeting at the conference that the huge cost of shoplifting now amounts to a 6p ‘transaction tax’ on every purchase.

A masked armed robber threatens three young women in an attempt to rob a newsagent

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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