Cutting-edge live facial recognition cameras could be deployed in North Yorkshire as early as this year under mayoral candidate Keane Duncan’s tough-on-crime agenda.
Mr Duncan, who will take on the responsibilities of Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner if elected as Mayor in May’s historic election, has announced plans for the new technology to be piloted in York, Harrogate and Scarborough.
Trials elsewhere in the country found the cameras can cut the time required to identify dangerous criminals and missing people from days and months to “just minutes”.
New technology is a key component of Mr Duncan's 'back-to-basics' approach to policing that he hopes will refocus North Yorkshire Police on the fundamentals of recording, fighting and preventing crime.
“I want to embrace new technology to revolutionise the way in which policing is conducted in North Yorkshire," he said.
“From apprehending dangerous criminals to locating vulnerable people, live facial recognition cameras represent an effective tool in the arsenal of our police.
“With potential to free up valuable manpower so officers can have a greater presence on our streets, I want the cameras to be tested here in North Yorkshire.
“Starting with pilots in our biggest settlements of York, Harrogate and Scarborough, we would be able to assess the effectiveness of the programme, before looking to a potential broader rollout.
“Use of the cameras must be proportionate, and their deployment would be closely monitored and governed by clear and robust rules.”
Use of the cameras in Croydon, south London, on December 14 identified 22 people on the Metropolitan Police’s wanted list in a few hours.
Of those, ten people were arrested for offences including threats to kill, domestic abuse offences, theft, bank fraud and knife crime.
The technology uses a CCTV feed from a police van linked to facial-recognition software.
The police upload photos of wanted criminals and the software creates an alert when a biometric match is found. The match is then reviewed by a police officer to confirm its accuracy.
The details of anyone who is not a match are immediately and automatically deleted.
Supporting the deployment, a spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: “Facial-recognition technology has a significant role to play in improving our service and enabling police to do their jobs better.
"For example, it can cut the amount of time spent trying to identify an offender or safeguard a vulnerable person from days and months, to just minutes.
“This means that precious police resources are freed up to further focus on the needs of the community, as well as allowing policing to be far more precise in the way we investigate and tackle crime.
“The vast majority of the public are supportive of the use of facial-recognition technology in policing, but we recognise the need to balance the use of new technology with the right to privacy. That is why the use of any technology in policing must be legitimate, transparent and accountable.”