Eat 17’s family run SPAR in Hackney has become a strong advocate of Facewatch.

Following a successful trial at their Walthamstow store last year, the system was installed at the Hackney store 5 months ago to combat store crime. It immediately made an impact.

Once the repeat offenders are uploaded to the system, Facewatch’s unique software is able to recognize the returning offenders and instantly warn the store staff by sending an alert via the Facewatch mobile app.

By receiving the alert, store staff then have the information required to safely deal with the situation and prevent any further incidents.

In a video testimonial Emmanuelle Jardin, The Store Manager, says that, ‘Since installing Facewatch in our store, we saved I reckon, a few thousand pounds a week.’

As well as reducing the stock loss and saving money, the system also has a positive impact by creating a safer working environment for the colleagues in the store. Knowing that the system is watching out for offenders, it gives them peace of mind to go about their jobs without being worried for their safety.

‘Having the backup of the system, does make us feel more confident and safer.’

Emmanuelle also goes on to explain how the system automatically shares data with the local community, allowing local businesses to work together to combat crime.

Facewatch is currently installing systems daily across the UK and stores interested in the system should contact our team immediately to secure their installation date.

0207 930 3225

enquiries@facewatch.co.uk

Play video here:

Appleby Westward, the successful convenience store wholesaler in the South and West of the UK, has become a firm supporter of Facewatch and has installed the facial recognition system in their own stores. They will be promoting the system to their independent retailers with a view for them to all install the shoplifting and anti-social behaviour deterrent.

In March 2021, this company trialled Facewatch for 90 days in 2 of their company owned stores based in Portsmouth. After just 45 days the system had been so effective that they decided to end the trial early and sign up for a paying contract.

In a video testimonial Martin Sanger, one of the groups area managers, says that, ‘It became clear that the effectiveness of the system in deterring store crime had saved the company thousands in shrinkage’ .

Since the opening up of retail following the pandemic there has been a surge of interest by convenience store owners to find ways to deter habitual thieves and reduce bad behaviour and abuse from some customers. Martin mentions this in his video interview and it seems that this challenge is across the whole UK. Today the focus for convenience stores, in particular, is to improve the working conditions of employees after a very tough 2020 when managing restrictions became a new and important priority which led to more theft. Facewatch provides a low cost and effective way to deter the worst offenders without any negative effect on the retail experience.

Facewatch is currently installing systems daily across the UK and stores interested in the system should contact our team immediately to secure their installation date.

Play video here:

video-interview

In a series of blogs, Facewatch’s  Data Protection Officer discusses the company’s approach to providing a trusted, legal and ethical solution that provides an affordable deterrent to crime and anti-social behaviour in the retail sector.

 

Retail owners and managers are facing continuing and growing challenges with increasing losses due to theft and the need to provide a safe working environment for their customer-facing employees.

Public opinion is supportive of new technology to help with these challenges and retailers are becoming confident that solutions such as Facewatch are acceptable to their customers and front-line employees are keen to work in retailers where it is used. 

Dave Sumner, our DPO, explains the 4-year journey that the company has taken to ensure that Facewatch became the leader in facial recognition.

 

I am a Certified Data Protection Officer and Certified Security Management Professional. Before I joined Facewatch over four years ago I enjoyed a 31 year career in the police. My career was varied and interesting with roles including Head of Criminal Justice, Director of Intelligence, and NATO’s Chief Advisor on Police Intelligence to the Afghan Home Secretary. All these roles involved handling sensitive information in order to achieve the objective of protecting people by preventing and detecting crime and bringing criminals to justice. They also had another thing in common – the objective had to be achieved within the boundaries of a legal and ethical framework. I had one simple personal rule that guided me throughout. I wanted to be able to sleep at night with a clear conscience, knowing I had done all I could and that my actions would withstand scrutiny in both the courts of the land and the court of public opinion.

 

It is for these reasons that I was recruited by Facewatch CEO Nick Fisher and Chairman Simon Gordon. They both saw the pressing need of business owners to protect their staff and property from criminal activity and that their Facewatch Facial Recognition System was the solution. They also recognised it was essential that the system operated in a way that complies with the law (the Data Protection Act) and that could withstand scrutiny by regulatory bodies ( the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner). Together we have built a facial recognition system that does just that.

 

We live in a world of individual rights, some of which are enshrined in law and some of which are expected by the public’s sense of natural justice and fairness. Business owners don’t want to offend either but also have to trade in a challenging environment where criminal activity takes away their profit and harms their staff and customers. This is why I also point to the right of business owners to protect their property, staff and customers from this criminality. This right is also enshrined in law and the public’s sense of natural justice and fairness.

 

The Facewatch system has been designed to ensure that Facewatch and their clients meet the requirements of the law. Our operation has been inspected and assessed by the Information Commissioner’s Office and fully briefed to the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner. MORI Polling shows the majority of the public sampled to be in favour of facial recognition as a tool to prevent crime. Our clients can therefore rest assured that their use of Facewatch will withstand scrutiny in both the courts of the land and the court of public opinion.

 

Facewatch welcomes the ICO Opinion on how Live Facial Recognition can be lawfully used in public spaces, including the retail environment. The Opinion provides much need clarity on how LFR can be lawfully used to prevent crime.

 

I am delighted to say that the announcement confirms our comprehensive data protection measures fully meet the requirements of the Opinion by both Facewatch and our clients.

 

In future blogs I will describe how the Facewatch System works in a legal and ethical way starting with Subjects of Interest, the people that businesses want to protect themselves from. In the meantime I continue to work to help business protect themselves by ensuring the legal compliance of Facewatch.

 

And yes, I still sleep well.

 

 

The pace of Facewatch installations continues to increase with two new installations in Wolverhampton and Leeds this week (week 24 2021)

New system upgrades also continue across our network in London and Luton.

 

With the recent BRC (British Retail Consortium) crime survey reporting an increase in theft and violence many retailers are facing huge challenges to support their front line workers and protect their stock. With a further increase in theft in the wholesale market to compound the issues technology is increasingly seen as a low cost and positive way forward.

Facewatch have recently commissioned a YouGOV survey across the UK and public opinion towards the use of CCTV based AFR systems shows that over 74.9% of the public are in agreement or are neutral about the use of AFR in everyday life to prevent and solve crime.

If you are a retail owner who is worried about theft and anti-social behaviour in your store but have questions about the reaction by your customers to the use of these new technologies then Nick Fisher, CEO, Facewatch is available to discuss the challenges, show you the system in use and for you to meet other retailers who are currently using the Facewatch system.

Our Data Protection Officer, Dave Sumner is also available to overview the detail of how Facewatch manages data under the GDPR data protection law. https://www.facewatch.co.uk/privacy/facewatch-and-gdpr/

 

Nick Fisher, CEO, Facewatch, responds to the latest BRC crime report

https://brc.org.uk/news/corporate-affairs/retail-crime-continues-to-climb/

The recent BRC (British Retail Consortium) 2021 crime report gives us all a chilling reminder of how even during a pandemic retail crime and violence continues to blight an industry that employs over 3million people- 10% of the UK working population.

The headline facts show a marked increase in theft and violence and how difficult it is to convict those committing offences.

  • 7% rise in incidents of violence and abuse against shopworkers, now at 455 each day
  • Only 6% of incidents of violence and abuse result in prosecution
  • Whopping £2.5 billion cost of crime to retailers, including £935m in customer theft

Technology is providing a range of innovative solutions to ensure the retail experience is safe and pleasurable, however, some of these new solutions make it easier for theft and sometimes mean a less interactive experience for shoppers especially those who are older and less able to cope with new technology. These challenges will continue, and new innovations are sure to arrive that answer these needs. Crime and violence however seem to be an epidemic driven by social issues that vary greatly across the UK. One thing this report highlights is that overall, there is a steady increase in theft and violence, specifically in the retail sector.

Facewatch App

How are we helping at Facewatch?

As a business our vision is to create safer, crime fee retailing, and our mission is to develop the very latest technology to be used by retailers to create a deterrent to both theft and violence. Our newest, fastest, and easiest to use version of Facewatch is being deployed by all types of retailers nationwide to great effect.

We understand it is not easy for a retailer to broadcast they are using a sophisticated technology such as facial recognition, but our customer collectively agree that Facewatch is it an imperative tool to have in your armoury if you are serious about providing a safe environment for your employees and customers. For those using the Facewatch system, customer facing employees report feeling safer and the accountants report less shrinkage. It’s a win-win solution and if our users had any negative feedback from their everyday loyal customers, we would be the first to know. Just for the record, this has never happened! Facewatch provides store signage to ensure the service is transparent to all customer and operates beyond the standard required by GDPR and is evidenced to reduce crime in your store by at least 25% in the first 90 days.

 

If you think criminals are getting away with it, think again! Narrated by Rav Wilding, this series shows how smart technology and specialist tactics are being used to bring offenders to justice.

Nick Fisher and Simon Gordon – tell the true story of Facewatch and how it is deterring crime across the retail sector.

All episodes are now live on BBC Iplayer:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/m000tq65/frontline-fightback

 

 

 

Response to the recent demand for legislation to protect shopworkers by Nick Fisher, CEO, Facewatch Ltd

 

Facewatch’ s mission has always been to provide a service that supports retail business owners and create a better retail experience for the customer in an unobtrusive way. It is, therefore, a sad moment to read reports on the huge increase in anti-social behaviour and violence towards retail staff over the last year. Much of this increase has been caused by a small minority of the public who are frustrated by the need for the in-store safety measures brought about by the Covid 19 pandemic.

Facewatch has, of course, been aware of these challenges and our launch of a new algorithm that is effective in recognising habitual offenders even when wearing a facemask, was one of our immediate priorities and was delivered in November last year. We now see Facewatch’ s role in the retail sector broadened and key to the future of safe retailing.

Facewatch instantly identifies individuals with a track record of crime or anti-social behaviour when entering a store, sending immediate alerts to multiple destinations as determined by the store. These can be to the store manager, security guards, monitoring stations, head office all at the same time in less than 2 seconds, enabling an immediate intervention.

Throughout the pandemic, retailers have needed to control customer volumes in store. In some cases, this has increased costs by using man guarding in addition to all the necessary PPE controls being applied.  The Police have declared they simply do not have the resources to deal with crimes such as store theft and general abuse of retail employees. Consequently, multiple retailers are turning to Facewatch as a proven and effective solution in deterring the undesirable customers from coming to their stores for fear of being recognised, thus preventing all the hassle and stress associated with repeat offenders. In fact, Facewatch customers report a reduction in crime of 25% or more within the first 90 days of deployment with increasing results the longer the system is used.

Signage displayed to customers (and repeat offenders) makes them aware that the system is deployed in the store resulting in both customers and employees reporting feeling safer as a result.  There is no evidence whatsoever that it deters honest customers from shopping at the store.

There are a few minority civil liberty organisation that would have you believe that facial recognition and companies like Facewatch will hold and store your data, track and trace your movement and infringe your liberty! In fact, Facewatch deletes all biometric data of regular customers (non-offenders) immediately and operates above the already strict legislation for biometric technology.

Retail workers have been complete heroes throughout this pandemic and yet over 400 of these heroes are attacked threatened or abused in their workplace every day. That was over 150,000 in 2020 and recent report claim it has increased by 80% in some businesses since the summer. These crimes are highly corrosive to the people working in these challenging circumstances and so the Government must act to criminalise such offence. As a former retail director, who understands completely the challenges placed on modern day retailers I am completely aligned with the 65 retail CEO’s who have written to Boris Johnson to ask for greater protection for shopworkers.

In support of our complete commitment to this, for the duration of the lockdown in England if anti-social behaviour and staff abuse is affecting your business Facewatch will provide one system licence and training free of charge for the first 90 days and if you are not completely satisfied with the results during this period Facewatch will remove the system.

 

Meat, nappies, razor blades and deodorant top the list of Britain’s most shoplifted items, reveals the company behind a facial recognition camera system used to spot criminals

  • Meat, nappies, razor blades and deodorant are Britain’s most shoplifted items
  • Facewatch operates in some Southern Co-op stores, Budgens, garden centres  
  • System sends alert to staff when someone on watchlist walks through the door

Meat, nappies, razor blades and deodorant are Britain’s most shoplifted items, a company behind a controversial facial recognition camera system to spot criminals has revealed.

Facewatch operates in some Southern Co-op stores, Budgens, garden centres and petrol stations and plans to expand, despite criticisms from privacy campaigners. Facewatch insists the technology is legal and meets the standards of privacy watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Facewatch’s chief executive, Nick Fisher, said the company has created a ‘watchlist’ of individuals who have a history of theft, violence or threats of violence against shop staff based on CCTV images, names and descriptions provided by retailers signed up to the service.

The system sends an alert to store staff when someone on the watchlist walks through the door and is seen on CCTV (file image)

The system sends an alert to store staff when someone on the watchlist walks through the door and is seen on CCTV (file image)

Mr Fisher said the most commonly stolen items are packed meat, nappies, baby food, razor blades, whisky, cosmetics, cheese, deodorants and small electrical goods.

The system sends an alert to store staff when someone on the watchlist walks through the door and is seen on CCTV. The director of civil rights group Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo, said: ‘This surveillance is well-known to suffer from severe inaccuracy and biases, leading to innocent people being wrongly flagged.’

Meat, (file image) nappies, razor blades and deodorant are Britain¿s most shoplifted items, a company behind a controversial facial recognition camera system to spot criminals has revealed

Meat, (file image) nappies, razor blades and deodorant are Britain’s most shoplifted items, a company behind a controversial facial recognition camera system to spot criminals has revealed

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9128315/Meat-nappies-razor-blades-deodorant-list-Britains-shoplifted-items.html

 

Nick Fisher talks about the challenges for retailers and how they are managing crime and violence

If you run a business that’s about standing up for individuals privacy rights in a democratic country and rely on creating headline news to encourage people to financially support you, it looks like challenging times ahead. Greater issues such as climate change, famine, racism, crime, immigration, Brexit and of course this awful pandemic will continue to be the headlines for some time to come.

 

However, if this is your strategy and you hope to attract and engage advocates of your position, it would serve you well to accurately reflect the truth and demonstrate at least some understanding of your subjects’ proposition and how it works before potentially playing with people’s lives. That is unless your strategy is to purposefully misrepresent the facts, propagate untruths, create sensationalism, or instill fear.

 

The facts are, Facewatch uses facial recognition to protect employees and business against criminals. Our algorithms are highly accurate, tested frequently by NIST and currently rank as the best in the Western World. Facewatch goes above and beyond GDPR legislation when processing and managing data, implementing self-imposed rules and additional levels of security and transparency beyond legislative requirements. Contrary to incorrect reports, there are no secrets to any Facewatch deployment, clear signage is a mandatory requirement of use. Furthermore, our customers have published testimonials, with all reporting significant reductions in crime, employees feeling safer and no effect whatsoever on footfall.

Retail crime is at an all-time high and verbal and violent assaults on employees is the norm, some reports indicating an 80% increase year on year!  Protecting your most valuable asset, your people is an imperative of all responsible retailers. So, while the challenging retail climate exists, deploying facial recognition could quickly evolve from a nice to have to a necessity in the same way as CCTV did before it. The CO-OP must be commended for their pro-action in adopting the latest and some would argue the safest technology that lawfully protects the welfare of their employees and customers alike.

 

The truth is that there are no privacy concerns from the overwhelming majority of the general public. The interests of the law-abiding individual trumps all or should so in the moral public’s perception. It’s the sensational, alarmist and misrepresentative narrative repeatedly trotted out by civil liberty groups that aim to cause disruption and concern. This fanciful inference that your data will be secretly recorded and stored, that modern-day algorithms are severely inaccurate and innocent people will be flagged and recorded as criminals is complete nonsense, stated without any evidence and simply designed to cause alarm. Using terms to describe facial recognition as deeply chilling and more associated with the Stasi or dictatorships is an insult to responsible businesses who with complete transparency are aiming to protect the welfare and well being of their employees and customers. All this commentary is given without any insight whatsoever as to how private facial recognition (Facewatch) operates. It would do the civil liberty groups some good to get out of their ivory towers and spend some time in the very environments that Facewatch is deployed. Who knows, it may even lead to them demonstrate some understanding and empathy towards retail employees and the daily challenges they face in modern-day Britain, rather than championing the rights of violent offenders and thieves!

Facewatch support the BSIA as a full member and are working with the team to publish a guide for the industry on the use of AFR and the need for an understanding of the data laws that currently exist in the UK and Europe. In a recent round table discussion many of the opportunities and challenges for the technology were aired. Nick Fisher was one of the key speakers.

 

Watch the broadcast here:

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