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AI Case Study

HM Prison Service trials facial recognition to identify visitors and reduce contraband

HM Prison Service has trialled a facial recognition system at its facility HM Humber. The goal is to identify visitors who may be using fake IDs or other credentials to smuggle contraband in for prisoners.


Public And Social Sector


Project Overview

"Over a six-week period in December and January, cameras scanned the faces of 770 visitors at HMP Humber, to spot if they were using false identities or making repeat trips to see different prisoners. Some visitors turned back after finding out facial matching software was in use. The Ministry of Justice said that prison intelligence has identified a trend of visitors supplying banned items to inmates. But those responsible have proven difficult to track because they may be using false identity documents to gain access to the prison, it said. Some prisons use fingerprint technology, but many rely on physical ID documents such as driving licences." However, the project has been criticised as dissuading prison visits with limited data on its success as a deterrent.

Reported Results

"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.'"






"Last year prison staff across England and Wales seized more than 23,000 drug packages and mobile phones. Many methods were used to smuggle in the contraband, but intelligence work identified one trend in particular - prison visits."



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