UK GOV plans to roll out biometric technology to prisons in Blighty in a bid to curb drug trafficking, following a "successful" trial of the so-called "state-of-the-art" tech.
According to the Ministry of Justice, iris scanning, facial recognition and identity document verification software from Tascent, FaceWatch and IDScan was tested at three prisons in December and January: HMP Lindholme, HMP Humber and HMP Hull.
The tech was deployed in a bid to reduce the number of visitors trafficking drugs; more than 23,000 drugs and mobile phones seizures were made by prison staff, the MoJ says, an increase of almost 4,000 from the previous year.
While it's kept schtum on actual stats, the MoJ claims that the two-month trial was "successful", with one trial prison seeing a higher than usual 'no shows' at visits after attendees found out the software would be in operation.
Following that, er, "success", UK gov is now considering how to roll out the technology more widely in prisons across England and Wales.
Justice Secretary David Gauke said: "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.
"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."
While the MoJ is pleased with its efforts, news of the trial hasn't gone down well with privacy campaign groups. Guy Ferris, legal and policy officer at Big Brother Watch, described the move as a "shock".
"The use of facial recognition in prisons comes as a total shock to everyone, including the Commissioners who have been tasked to oversee this new surveillance technology," he remarked.
"Government seeking public approval for facial recognition cameras in low-rights environments such as prisons is a staggering move, since we know it's also trying to introduce them as a general public surveillance tool.
"Despite facing our legal challenge, we're quite surprised that the Government is continuing to take such an experimental approach to human rights." µ
We don't have enough faces or palms
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