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Video parade

A scheme heralded in 2002 by police forces across the country now seems to be picking up traction again, as police offer members of the public money to be a part of a national video database.

Constabularies are offering £10 to be entered in to the national hub which will in theory replace the need for the traditional police line-up. The VIPER (Video Identification Parade Electronic Recording) system which is already in use in Scotland is now being rolled out across the country.

Champions of the system say that it removes the trauma inflicted on victims of identifying perpetrators in person and means police don’t have to waste time rounding up participants for ID parades. While there are undoubtedly benefits to the system, is it symptomatic of inevitable digitisation of policing and security? And what does this mean for employees?

The UK may be the most ‘watched’ country in the world. There is a well-used statistic that states although the country only holds around 1pc of the world’s population, it also holds about 20pc of the world’s cameras. There is always a debate about the advantages of having this security equipment alongside discussions of invasion of privacy. What can’t be denied though is the importance of CCTV and surveillance. Most town centres are now largely covered and more and more home owners are installing them. Having blanket coverage with CCTV does mean the job of identifying suspects is made easier and it can be used as evidence in court. It can also be used as a deterrent both to prevent, but also more recently to shame criminals. Evening television is often plastered with the misfortunate videos of inept criminals. Smartphones now also put that power in the hand of civilians too, who can film abuse and violence to help find perpetrators who think they can get away with it.

Airports now have body scanners now removing some elements of the traditional body search. This can make the airport experience more pleasant for staff and passengers. Facial recognition technology is another innovation heavily used, with many large airports using it instead of manned passport booths. Security product providers are undoubtedly happy about these big advances with equipment.

Anthony Neary from The Safe Shop, a UK security product firm said: “We always welcome new technology that makes life easier for those in the industry. To some extent this removes the element of ‘human error’ from security which can only be positive. Facial recognition is still so new and there’ll be a lot more to come from it in future, I’m sure.”

While this shift towards video databases and away from ID parades may well be a very positive thing, he adds, it is yet another signal that in policing and security video and digital technologies will be ever more vital in years to come. It’s a reminder to all in the industry that they should embrace technology, they could even make £10 off it.


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