UK Prisons trial facial recognition to stop drug smugglers

Biometric technology used to catch visitors supplying contraband

CCTV Camera in jail

Biometric technology, such as facial recognition, has been successfully trialled at three UK prisons, the government revealed on Tuesday.

The technology, which includes iris scanners, has been tested at HMP Hull, Humber and Lindholme as part of a wider crackdown on drug smuggling into prisons.

Intelligence work has identified a trend of prison visitors supplying illicit items to multiple prisoners and jails across the country and according to the government, more than 23,000 drugs and mobile phones were seized by prison staff - a 4,000 increase from the year before.

Justice Secretary David Gauke, who announced the trials, said that the new technology was needed to stop drug smuggling and ultimately aid rehabilitation.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

"New technology is vital in our fight against the gangs that seek to cause chaos in prisons and this biometric equipment has the potential to significantly aid our efforts," he said.

"It forms part of this government's multi-million-pound investment to improve the safety and security of our prisons. Alongside our successful officer recruitment drive, measures like this will help make prisons places of rehabilitation where offenders can turn their lives around. This will cut reoffending and make the public safer."

Individuals that smuggle drugs and devices into prisons are often difficult to track as organised criminals often falsify their identity documents. While some prisons have fingerprint recognition technology, the majority in the UK use paper-based verification, such as drivers licences, which is easy to exploit and slow to process.

However, biometric technology trialled at the three UK jails has reportedly allowed staff to identify visitors using applications based around document validation, iris scanning and facial recognition software.

As yet, there are no details of any arrests or interceptions of contraband from the trials, but as a deterrent, one of the trial prisons saw a higher than usual 'no show' rate at visits after attendees found out the software would be in operation.

The Prison Service is now looking at how this, and other similar technology, could be used most effectively across the system, but governmental and authoritarian use of facial recognition has not always gone smoothly.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Without any hard statistics, such as arrests, the prison use of the technology could turn out similar to the Met Police's use of it. Last year the force continued to use facial recognition at events such as the Notting Hill Carnival, despite the fact it had proved to be 98% inaccurate. Further to this, the software identified innocent people as criminals and resulted in zero arrests.

Featured Resources

What you need to know about migrating to SAP S/4HANA

Factors to assess how and when to begin migration

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

Testing for compliance just became easier

How you can use technology to ensure compliance in your organisation

Download now

Best practices for implementing security awareness training

How to develop a security awareness programme that will actually change behaviour

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/security/internet-security/354417/avast-and-avg-extensions-pulled-from-chrome
internet security

Avast and AVG extensions pulled from Chrome

19 Dec 2019
Visit/security/354156/google-confirms-android-cameras-can-be-hijacked-to-spy-on-you
Security

Google confirms Android cameras can be hijacked to spy on you

20 Nov 2019

Most Popular

Visit/policy-legislation/data-governance/354496/brexit-security-talks-under-threat-after-uk-accused-of
data governance

Brexit security talks under threat after UK accused of illegally copying Schengen data

10 Jan 2020
Visit/microsoft-windows/32066/what-to-do-if-youre-still-running-windows-7
Microsoft Windows

What to do if you're still running Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
Visit/hardware/laptops/354533/dell-xps-13-new-9300-hands-on-review-chasing-perfection
Laptops

Dell XPS 13 (New 9300) hands-on review: Chasing perfection

14 Jan 2020
Visit/operating-systems/25802/17-windows-10-problems-and-how-to-fix-them
operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

13 Jan 2020