FIND a face

Today we have
databases of DNA, fingerprints and vehicle registrations, and will soon
have a footprint database, but mugshots have only recently moved from
the analogue world and into the digital.

Jul 12, 2007
By David Howell

A new database of mugshots

is to be created using the latest face recognition technology. PITO

(now the NPIA) were given a mandate from the Association of Chief

Police Officers to develop this system a prerequisite of which is the

establishment of a national database of mugshots.  NPIA’s FIND (Facial

Images National Database) is already in development to deliver this

service to forces across the UK.

The database it is hoped will

eventually include still/video facial images, marks, scars and tattoos

that can all be stored, retrieved and shared between forces.  Such

images will be taken to agreed standards and linked to a person’s

criminal history record on the Police National Computer and used to

support the identification and apprehension of persons arrested for, or

convicted of, criminal offences. The images that each force obtains

will be stored centrally with the facility for each force to

automatically send images to the central national repository held at

the Hendon Data Centre (HDC). Given the high level of cross border

crime, forces will have the ability to immediately access images for

police intelligence purposes.

The Biometrics team within NPIA’s

Identification Directorate is currently evaluating the potential of

facial recognition technology generally for future use in conjunction

with FIND. NPIA has recently awarded contracts to Aurora Computer

Services to install its eGallery product, which is based on facial

recognition technology from Identix and also to US based company

Geometrix Inc. for their Active-ID 3D face recognition application.

These systems, and others, will be installed at NPIA’s London offices

and used to provide demonstrations of the technology to the police

service and wider government.

Aurora’s eGallery product can store

hundreds of thousands of digital images from custody suites and can

automatically templify them, thus creating a searchable database of

facial images, with the ability to return the most likely matches to

any enquiry image. Several police forces have already independently

selected eGallery to assist with their local investigations. The

Geometrix system makes use of both 3D and 2D data to improve

recognition accuracy. This identity management system uses a fusion of

single or multiple biometric technologies including fingerprint, 3D and

2D face recognition, and iris to maximise the likelihood of correct

identification even from poor data.

The FIND Pilot went live on 6

November 2006 with three forces actively contributing and viewing

images and two forces having just read access. The forces involved at

pilot inception were Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Merseyside

(supplying their data and images) and Devon and Cornwall and British

Transport Police (BTP) North Eastern Region (read only).

Initially

planned to run for three months, the pilot has been extended for a

second time and will now run until early August 2007 to enable the

improved collation and evaluation of project benefits. This extension

has seen the addition of Greater Manchester (GMP) and North Wales

Police on a read only basis. Extensive work is ongoing to assess the

success of the pilot and capture the benefits identified by the forces.

This data will be fed into the Benefits Realisation Plan, which is due

at the end of July 2007.

FIND has been used in real-world

investigations and is illustrating even in its pilot phase that it can

offer huge benefits to every policing organisation. A Merseyside FIND

user received a request from the Breach Team of a local Magistrates

Court for a photo of one of their offenders who was wanted on warrant.

Nothing was found on the local system, but a PNC check showed the

offender’s recent convictions were in Lancashire. The team had tried

calling Lancashire earlier, but had got no response. The Lancashire

images were immediately retrieved from FIND.

The very first time a

BTP Researcher used FIND they obtained an image of a su

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