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‘Double rapist’ among 100 alleged criminals caught in London’s Croydon borough by facial recognition cameras

An alleged double rapist is among 100 suspected criminals caught in Croydon by facial recognition technology, Police Minister Chris Philp says.

The use of city center cameras has also led to the arrest of people wanted for firearms, drugs and knife offences, he added.

The trial in the south London borough has been ongoing since January.

“In Croydon, in the last three or four months alone, over 100 people have been arrested who would otherwise not have been caught, including for knife offences,” Mr Philp, MP for Croydon South, told GB News.

“There was someone wanted for a double rape, the first of which took place in 2017, he was not caught for seven years until the man walked past the camera and was identified.

“This hasn’t gone to trial yet, but there’s someone wanted for a double rape who hasn’t been caught.

“All that has to happen to do this is for you and I to be scanned and our photo is then immediately and automatically deleted.

“That makes public safety much, much better. I think it strikes the right balance.”

He dismissed allegations that the facial recognition cameras were part of a “Big Brother” state.

He insisted there were safeguards in place in terms of accuracy, a one in 6,000 chance of the wrong person being identified and measures in place to ensure there was no racial bias.

In Croydon, he said, the only person misidentified was the twin brother of a wanted criminal suspect.

He added: “These are 100s of people, often dangerous criminals, including the wanted rapist, people who have committed knife offences, drug offences, firearms offences.

“They wouldn’t have been arrested otherwise and now they were.

“It will keep the public, you and me, and our families safer.”

He also defended new technology that will allow police to remotely scan people for a knife.

He believes it could have “a huge impact on public safety.”

Mr Philp also encouraged police forces to carry out more stop and searches after warning that underage teenagers buying knives online remained a “really worrying picture”, with illegal dealers selling guns via social media.

A spate of knife murders in London by teenagers and the elderly has devastated families and communities.

Commander Stephen Clayman, the national police leader, said the force was keen to cut off the supply of weapons as part of efforts to stop injury and deaths.

Knives are being sold illegally to people under 18 through social media channels including TikTok, Snapchat and those run by Meta, he said.

Speaking ahead of a week of police action to tackle knife crime, he stressed: “It’s still a really worrying picture in terms of the accessibility of knives online.”

All police forces in England and Wales will step up action to take more knives off the street for a week this month as part of Operation Sceptre, and again in November.

Mr Philp said: “Police must use the powers at their disposal without fear or favour.”

Official figures show that knife crime has risen by seven per cent in the year to December 2023.

In the year to March 2023, 82% of teenage homicide victims were killed with a knife, compared with 73% the previous year.

The Home Office announced on Tuesday that it will provide an additional £3.5 million in funding to research and develop new technology to enable knives to be detected remotely when a suspect passes through two points.

In addition, £547,863 will be awarded to the Metropolitan Police to fund four more vans with live facial recognition cameras.

Laws on zombie knives, machetes and swords are to be tightened from September, giving police more powers to confiscate weapons found on private property.

The possession, sale, manufacture or transport of zombie-style knives and machetes will be illegal, and the maximum sentence for possession of these and other banned weapons will also increase from six months to two years.

A teaching and compensation scheme is due to be launched in the summer.