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New technology sheds light on criminal images

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08:24 CEST+02:00
Sweden's police will now be able to identify criminals from footage with the aid of new technology that can compare a suspect in an image with police record photos.

Criminals are often caught on camera – there's a wide range of images from surveillance cameras, such as robbers in a store or hooligans in fights, or from private footage of people witnessing their deed.

Thus far, it has been difficult to identify and capture suspects, requiring police to already know exactly who they are looking for after manually browsing through police photograph records of more than 150,000 convicted and suspected persons.

But soon, the digital era will help ease this daunting, often fruitless task.

Later this year, the National Police Agency (Rikspolisstyrelsen) will install a new system, Face Recognition, that measures, analyzes and compares faces.

“The system is very helpful, both in intelligence and investigative work. There is potential here that we do not quite grasp yet,” Police Commissioner Per Thollin told national newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN).

This modern technology, already used by many other nations, can measure such features as the depth of and the distance between the eyes, width of a nose, shape of cheeks.

After a scan is run, it will produce a list of possible subjects from police records that match the specifications and thus solving the identity dilemma.

The goal is that the system will be used by police forces throughout the nation enabling a patrol officer to quickly verify the identity of a suspect through a photograph or eventual fingerprint.

The National Police Agency estimates this new system will cost about 20 million kronor ($3 million).

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