The Co-op has recently experienced a concerning surge in shoplifting, reaching its highest level in history. According to The BBC, the police response to reported serious retail crimes has been inadequate, with a staggering 71% of cases remaining unresolved.

As the shoplifting epidemic in the UK continues to escalate, retailers are actively seeking alternative measures to safeguard their employees and combat crime within their stores.

Facewatch’s cutting-edge crime prevention solution has revealed some compelling statistics for stores with and without Facewatch installed across one of our subscribers:

Year on Year (YOY) overall crime has seen a modest 1.4% increase in stores with Facewatch, in contrast to a distressing 44.1% surge in stores lacking the system.

When it comes to YOY violence, stores equipped with Facewatch have witnessed a notable 17% reduction, while those without it experienced a worrisome 16% increase in violent incidents.

The introduction of Facewatch has proven invaluable in granting peace of mind to frontline staff, as it minimises the need for confrontations. Furthermore, this groundbreaking technology which complies with the data protection act has demonstrated its ability to reduce retail crime by an impressive 35% within just one year.

To discover how Facewatch is effectively assisting our subscribers in safeguarding their staff and preventing crime, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today. You can find more information at or contact us directly on 020 7930 3225.

#facialrecognition #facewatch #shoplifting #crimeprevention

Staff safety is a big issue as “criminals have a license to shoplift, which is not a victimless crime.” One of the UK’s largest retailers speaks about the rise in shoplifting and the effect on store staff as “gangs and shoplifters have become much bolder” as a result of the cost-of-living crisis in the UK.

It’s a difficult reality for UK retailers, but we already know that “the police simply don’t have the time or resource to respond to a shoplifting incident”. Read the full article here:

Facewatch is proven to reduce retail crime by up to 35% in 12 months. Contact us today to find out how Facewatch is helping our subscribers to protect their staff and prevent crime

020 7930 3225

#facialrecognition #crimeprevention #shoplifting #johnlewis #DameSharonWhite


An exciting testimonial from our newest partner! In just one week after installing Facewatch, they are already witnessing significant results. Read on to discover their experience first-hand:


“Our experience with Facewatch in our Weymouth town centre store has been remarkable. Within just one week of implementing the system, we witnessed a significant decrease in crime and a notable deterrence of repeat offenders.

Previously, our team would only identify offenders after they had already entered the store, selected items, and caused conflicts when confronted. Recovering stolen goods and asking them to leave often resulted in challenging situations. However, with Facewatch, individuals on the Facewatch database are now denied entry at the store’s entrance, simplifying the entire process and making it more manageable. Very quickly, these potential offenders have learned not to target our store at all.

Moreover, we have started reviewing CCTV footage from the previous day to identify any thefts that went unnoticed initially. By promptly reporting these offenders and adding them to the Facewatch database, we ensure that such incidents never go unnoticed again. This proactive approach has not only protected our business and team but will also save us a substantial amount of money in the long run.

We firmly believe that while we may not be able to eliminate the problem entirely, we can certainly displace it to safeguard our business and employees. The Facewatch system’s simplicity and user-friendliness have been instrumental in its success. The training provided was exceptional, and the intuitive nature of the system made it even easier for us to adapt.”


Stephen Bassett & Dave Hiscutt from Londis Weymouth


Contact us now to find out more and book your FREE demo

0207 930 3225

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The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK supervisory authority for processing personal data under the Data Protection Act and UKGDPR. The ICO has closed a formal inspection of Facewatch. The ICO concluded that no regulatory action is required. The ICO “are satisfied the company has a legitimate purpose for using people’s information for the detection and prevention of crime.”

The Office of the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner (OSBCC) is the UK supervisory authority for biometric processing and CCTV cameras. The OSBCC has awarded Facewatch certification of compliance with the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice for our use of live facial recognition.


Facewatch has become the first facial recognition business to win the official backing of the UK regulator, which has recognised the company’s “excellent and most commendable commitment” to high standards and maintaining public trust.

The Office of the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Professor Fraser Sampson, has awarded Facewatch its certification mark for meeting all requirements of the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice (SCCP) specifically for the use of live facial recognition.

The Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner is the UK regulatory authority for biometric processing and CCTV, including facial recognition.

The certification enables Facewatch, the UK’s leading facial recognition retail security company, to demonstrate that they comply with the SCCP for their use of Automatic Facial Recognition within their customers’ premises. The award of the mark follows a detailed accreditation process with the Security Systems and Alarms Inspections Board (SSAIB).

Nick Fisher, chairman of Facewatch, said: “The award of this certification underlines our commitment to best practice, both to prevent crime and protect staff and customers. The public and our subscribers can continue to have confidence in our systems and safeguards.”

Commissioner Fraser Sampson said: “By successfully engaging with the professional accreditation bodies and my certification scheme, an organisation, and more importantly the public, may be reassured that surveillance camera systems which intrude upon their privacy are being demonstrably operated ethically and legitimately to an appropriate standard.

“The certification scheme goes above and beyond the basic requirements of data protection and is designed, as is the government’s Surveillance Camera Code, to enable operators of surveillance camera systems to make legitimate use of available technology in a way that the public would rightly expect and to a standard that maintains public trust and confidence. I acknowledge your excellent and most commendable commitment in that regard arising from your engagement with this process.”

Facewatch takes protecting privacy and complying with the law and the Code of Practice very seriously. Facewatch is the only automatic facial recognition provider that complies with the UK GDPR and the SCCP.

Simon Gordon (Founder)

Surveillance Camera Code of Practice (SCCP) in full:



A Mail on Sunday article featured criticism from a privacy pressure group of retailers using Facewatch to prevent crime and abuse of staff in their stores.

Fraser Group responded by saying they use Facewatch “to ensure the safety of our staff and to help prevent theft”.

The activists’ criticism fell flat in the court of public opinion. Support and understanding from the public was evident as the online comments on the article point to overwhelming support for retailers using Facewatch.

“Blame the shoplifters not the store for trying to prevent it. Shoplifting cost us all and lets call it by its proper name, theft.” [sic]

 “More stores should do the same, then it may bring prices down so that honest people could afford to buy what they need or want..”

The statistics are clear, and according to the British Retail Consortium, ‘shoplifting has rocketed from 2.9 million incidents in 2016/17 to 7.9 million last year. The cost to retailers almost doubled from £503 million to £953 million in the same period’ demonstrating that the need for an effective solution is growing.


Read the full article here  and contact us now to find out how Facewatch can help you to protect your staff using our UKGDPR compliant system

0207 930 3225

Fascinating to hear the inside story…

Channel 4 have been granted rare and exclusive access to a CCTV monitoring centre at the retailer Boots’ headquarters in Nottingham.

Channel 4 understands that figures released by the British Retail Consortium later this week will show that violence and abuse against staff have doubled since 2019. Thefts cost retailers over 600-million pounds in revenue annually.

Facewatch is the trusted name in retail crime prevention, using facial recognition to proactively protect staff, customers and stock for a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. Facewatch can reduce crime by 25% in the first 6 months of use and up to 50% within one year as well as reducing staff abuse dramatically by eliminating the flashpoint involved in dealing with a crime in progress.

Protecting assets from crime


Facewatch teamed up with Security Journal UK for the first time to discuss the mission to provide affordable crime prevention solutions to protect employees, business owners and customers in a secure yet unobtrusive way. Read the full editorial here

If retailers would like to see more about what we do, we will be hosting a webinar on Thursday 20th October @3pm.

We will also be joined by two retailers who deployed Facewatch across their large estates over the last 3 years. They will share how Facewatch has worked for them, the ROI delivered, and information from their live reporting dashboard that they now use to make operational decisions, including footfall monitoring and SOI trend patterns.

Please click the link to register

Live Demo & ROI Webinar

Retailers, join our live Facewatch demonstration and learn from leading retailers how Facewatch has worked for them.

Places are limited, please click here to register.

The Grocer reports supermarket bosses saying theft levels are ‘off the charts’ and it’s only going to get worse. According to the Office for National Statistics, 89% of adults in Great Britain reported an increase in their cost of living in August 2022, while household incomes are expected to fall in 2022.

The cost of living crisis is getting worse and it’s predicted that crime will continue to increase. As a retailer, you have a right to protect your business, employees and customers using technologies available to you, providing they are lawful.

Facewatch is fully UKGDPR compliant and proven to reduce crime by discouraging subjects of interest from entering your premises. You can expect substantial reductions in financial loss, typically 50% after 6 months, plus your frontline workers will tell you they feel safer where Facewatch is deployed.

Facewatch know, through interviews with their clients, that traditional security such as CCTV, tagging and human guarding is ineffective and doesn’t deter crime. It only records it happening and can create unnecessary conflict in store when aiming to recover stolen items. There’s no evidence to support these traditional methods reduce crime over time and that’s why more retailers are turning to Facewatch.

Facewatch would like to invite UK retailers to join our live webinar demonstration.

You can see how easily database are created, how SOI’s are detected and how the data is lawfully shared. We’ll be joined by two retailers who have deployed Facewatch across their large estates over the last 3 years. They will share how Facewatch has worked for them, the ROI they’ve delivered and information from their reporting dashboard that they now use to make operational decisions, including footfall monitoring and SOI trend patterns.

Attendees will be invited to submit questions during the webinar and we will attempt to answer as many as possible during the session.

Please click here to register your interest

Big Brother Watch claims supermarket biometric scans of “thousands of shoppers” is “unlawful” and “Orwellian in the extreme”. Shoppers can be spied on, blacklisted across multiple stores, and denied food shopping despite being entirely innocent”.
Orwellian? What? To use a new technology that works for retailers to protect their employees, customers and assets?! A misleading statement designed to create concern and fear. However, there is a fundamental difference between shoppers and abusive thieves. Shoppers pay for their goods, thieves don’t and therefore are not “innocent shoppers”. Facial recognition is lawful for the purpose of crime prevention under the Data Protection Act if the strict criteria set out are followed – Facewatch operates in full adherence with the law.

First known legal complaint against facial recognition in retail urges new Information Commissioner to investigate and “stop unlawful processing”
Facewatch has always been open and collaborative with the ICO and welcomes any further constructive feedback from them as we take our responsibilities around the use of facial recognition extremely seriously. We work hard to balance our many retail clients’ customers rights with the need to protect their staff and customers from unacceptable violence and abuse across the UK.

Facewatch also uses photos of innocent shoppers to “improve its system”
This is untrue. Facewatch do not collect images of shoppers to improve our system.

Privacy rights group Big Brother Watch has filed a legal complaint with the Information Commissioner claiming that Southern Co-operative’s use of live facial recognition cameras in its supermarkets is “unlawful”. The legal complaint, sent via the group’s lawyers from data rights firm AWO, claims that the use of the biometric cameras “is infringing the data rights of a significant number of UK data subjects”. The legal complaint outlines how the system, sold by surveillance firm Facewatch, “uses novel technology and highly invasive processing of personal data, creating a biometric profile of every visitor to stores where its cameras are installed.” The supermarket chain has installed the controversial surveillance technology in 35 stores across Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Bristol, Brighton and Hove, Chichester, Southampton, and London. The supermarket’s staff can add individuals to the facial recognition “blacklist”, making them a “subject of interest”. Shoppers are not informed if their facial biometric data, similar to the data held on modern passports, is stored or added to the supermarket’s blacklist where it is kept for up to two years.
Clear signage is in place across all Facewatch protected stores. Biometric data is not retained for shoppers, it is deleted instantaneously. The only biometric data that is retained is for people who are reasonably suspected of committing crimes in the stores, which is retained for 1 year (not 2). The data is retained so we may generate an alert to subscribers when the offender enters their premises.

According to the Southern Co-operative’s correspondence with Big Brother Watch, staff do not receive photos from or give photos to the police, but rather use the biometric profiles to create an alert if certain shoppers enter the store and to share allegations of unwanted conduct between staff in different stores.
Facewatch does not accept reports of “unwanted conduct” there has to be documented evidence of a crime having been committed in their stores accompanied by a digitally signed witness statement.

Photos of shoppers who are not on any database may be kept for days for Facewatch to “improve its system”, according to Facewatch documents analysed in the complaint.
Facewatch retain CCTV stills like any other CCTV system in order to be able to identify and report crimes that have already happened. Facewatch do not collect images of shoppers to improve our system. Facewatch CCTV images (not biometric images) are retained for only 5 days, whereas most CCTV operators retain footage for 30 days.

The privacy NGO’s legal complaint claims that this biometric surveillance poses “significant” risks to shoppers’ rights and freedoms.
The privacy intrusion to genuine shoppers is negligible. Indeed, the Court of Appeal ruled in Ground 2 of the Bridges v South Wales case that the use of AFR was proportionate and did not contravene individual rights because the impact on every member of the public was as negligible as that on the Appellant himself, that is near instantaneous algorithmic processing and discarding of biometric data. This is exactly what Facewatch does.

Southern Co-operative supermarkets use facial recognition software with surveillance cameras from Chinese state-owned firm Hikvision, which also provides cameras for the CCP’s concentration camps in Xinjiang and has been associated with serious security flaws. The firm is banned from operating in the US and a group of senior parliamentarians recently urged the Government to ban the cameras from the UK.
Facewatch do not use Chinese facial recognition software provided by Hikvision or any other Chinese algorithm provider. We use algorithms from two leading NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) accredited US companies. Facewatch use standard CCTV cameras from various major hardware providers and in Southern Coops case there are two camera manufacturers products. Facewatch are agnostic to the hardware and will follow the Government’s lead on whether to continue using Hikvision hardware or not.

The facial recognition software used with the cameras, provided by UK firm Facewatch, can be used to share biometric photos of “subjects of interest” with other companies that buy access to their system. Subjects of interest photos can be shared in an 8 mile radius from where they are taken from stores in London, or up to a 46 mile radius in rural locations.
Our sharing of images is only of witnessed and evidenced offenders and complies with the principles of data minimisation and proportionality.

Being on the database for one of Facewatch’s clients like the Southern Co-operative could have serious detrimental impacts on someone’s day to day life. BigBrother Watch is urging anyone who thinks they might have been affected by this to reach out to them, as they may be able to challenge their inclusion on the watchlist.
As noted above ONLY individuals reasonably suspected of having committed offences are on the database, not regular shoppers. Even if you are on the database the only impact as stated by the Southern COOP is: ‘Any shopper previously banned would be asked to leave, and others would be approached by staff with an offer of “how can I help?” to make it clear their presence had been detected’. Our aim is to deter reoffending.

Live facial recognition has been the subject of growing controversy in recent years, with moves in the US and EU to ban the technology from being used for public surveillance. Research shows that the technology can be highly inaccurate, particularly with people of colour and women. Big Brother Watch’s research found that 87% of facial recognition “matches” in the Metropolitan Police’s trials of the surveillance technology in fact misidentified innocent people.
Facewatch only uses algorithms independently tested as highly accurate. This description of data accuracy is for police use and is over 4 years old and warrants no response, especially as the figures quoted then were in fact contested as inaccurate by the Police even then. FR algorithm quality has improved 30 fold since 2019. Please refer to the NIST site which contains full details of current algorithm quality in a definitive and properly evidenced set of data.


Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch said:
“Our legal complaint to the Information Commissioner is a vital step towards protecting the privacy rights of thousands of people who are affected by this dangerously intrusive, privatised spying.
“The Southern Co-op’s use of live facial recognition surveillance is Orwellian in the extreme, highly likely to be unlawful, and must be immediately stopped by the Information Commissioner.
“The supermarket is adding customers to secret watchlists with no due process, meaning shoppers can be spied on, blacklisted across multiple stores, and denied food shopping despite being entirely innocent. This would sound extreme even in an episode of Black Mirror, and yet it is taking place right now in Britain.
“This is a deeply unethical and frankly chilling way for any business to behave and I’d strongly recommend that people do not shop at the Southern Co-op whilst they continue to spy on their shoppers.”

Nick Fisher, CEO of Facewatch said:
“Facewatch is a vital tool for UK retailers, and significantly reduces crime, violence and anti-social behaviour wherever it is deployed. Our customers have turned to us after other methods of crime prevention such as CCTV, police, tagging and manned guarding have failed. BBW put out misleading, false and alarmist information which is designed to create fear in the general public by demonising the use of facial recognition technology. For example, we do not share the faces of shoppers – only images of witnessed and evidenced offenders, nor do we use Chinese algorithms. Facial recognition is lawful for the purpose of crime prevention under the Data Protection Act if strict criteria are adhered to. Facewatch operates in full adherence with the law. Facewatch has always been open and collaborative with the ICO and welcomes any further constructive feedback from them as we take our responsibilities around the use of facial recognition extremely seriously.”

Alex Lawrence-Archer, Solicitor at data rights agency AWO said:
“Our legal analysis shows there are good reasons to believe that Facewatch and Southern Co-op’s implementation of live facial recognition technology is in breach of data protection legislation. And it could be causing serious harm to people on their ‘watchlists’.
“This kind of high-risk, biometric processing needs a strong justification, and it’s not at all clear that Facewatch and Southern Co-op meet that test.
“We also highlight significant risks of unfair bias and inaccuracy in the implementation of the system, both of which further suggest that it is unlawful.
“Our data rights can give us a say in whether and how companies can use technology to exercise power over us, but only if they are enforced. That is why it’s urgent that the ICO investigates this system.”

Dean Armstrong, QC says:
How Facewatch complies with the DPA Facewatch as data controller shares and processes Personal Data, Special Category Personal Data and Criminal Offence Data with its business Subscribers. The Data Protection Act 2018 provides that such processing and sharing is justified if certain conditions are met. In Mr. Armstrong QC’s opinion, Facewatch satisfies those conditions because: (1) it is necessary to provide alerts to business subscribers to prevent or detect unlawful acts; (2) such processing cannot be carried out with consent as it relates to crime prevention; and (3) because Facewatch is processing data on a national level and is demonstrated to reduce/prevent crime in subscriber properties with the further potential to prevent and detect crime it is in the Substantial Public Interest.

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