Sports Direct introduces facial recognition cameras
By Sarah Wood | 15th March 2023
The UK's biggest sports retailer has introduced facial recognition cameras to identify shoplifters and potential offenders.
Frasers Group, owner of Sports Direct, has brought in Facewatch technology to 27 stores to scan the faces of customers and compare them against a database of suspected criminals, as reported by Charged Retail.
The tech matches the real-time image to faces on the database and alerts store staff.
Staff at the retailer, which has stores in Gloucester and Cheltenham, will then make the decision on what to do - the person might be closely monitored or escorted straight out of the shop.
Using the system, all customer faces are scanned as they walk into the store and later erased from the system, unless staff discover someone they can "reasonably suspect" is engaging in criminal activities. In this case, images are uploaded, kept for a year and can be shared with other shops that use Facewatch.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is investigating whether use of this technology is legal.
Frasers Group said it is using the cameras for staff safety and to help prevent theft. Facewatch said its cameras help prevent thousands of crimes every month.
Shoplifting has risen dramatically during the cost-of-living crisis. According to the BRC, incidents rose from 2.9 million incidents in 2016/17 to 7.9 million last year.
A number of Budgens, Spar, Costcutter and Nisa convenience stores have also introduced facial recognition technology.
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