Innocent woman left horrified after being branded a shoplifter by facial recognition software at Home Bargains

Innocent woman left horrified after being branded a shoplifter by facial recognition software at Home Bargains

WATCH: Martin Daubney discusses facial recognition software

GB News
George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 28/05/2024

- 08:56

Updated: 31/05/2024

- 08:57

The woman claimed she was left in tears after she had a bag searched

A woman was left horrified after she was incorrectly accused of being a shoplifter by facial recognition software.

After getting flagged by the ­Facewatch software the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, was left in tears on the way home.

The software is used by chains such as Budgens, Costcutter, Flannels, Spar and Sports Direct.

BBC’s Newsnight ­reported that the woman had her bag searched, was walked out of the shop and told that she was banned from all stores that used the ­technology.

Home Bargains, Facial recognition

The woman was left "shocked"

Google Maps/PA

She told The BBC: "I was just crying and crying the entire journey home… I thought, 'Oh, will my life be the same? I'm going to be looked at as a shoplifter when I've never stolen'".

Facewatch later wrote to the woman and acknowledged it had made an error. GB News has approached Facewatch and Home Bargains for a comment.

Back in October, the Met Police announced it was to roll out the use of facial recognition technology to identify the most prolific shoplifters.

Scotland Yard said retail crime is responsible for the loss of an estimated £1.9billion in revenue in London each year and that more than 1,000 related cases of abuse and violence against shop staff are reported annually.


Police opening facial recognition van

The Metropolitan Police deploying the use of live facial recognition technology in Croydon


The software uses biometric measures of a person’s face and works even if part of their face is covered. It takes around 60 seconds to find a match.

Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said: "We’re working with shops across the capital to target and track down criminals in a way we never have before. We’re pushing the boundaries and using innovation and technology to rapidly identify criminals.

"The results we’ve seen so far are game-changing. The use of facial recognition in this way could revolutionise how we investigate and solve crime."

However since then, the Met said about one in every 33,000 people who passed its cameras were misidentified. The error count was higher, however, once someone was flagged. One in 40 alerts so far this year has been in error, reports The Times.

Earlier this year the government ­announced that £230m would be spent over four years on police technology, including facial recognition vans.

Chris Philp, the policing minister, said: ­"Facial recognition has the potential to completely revolutionise policing."

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