The Metropolitan Police have released a new smartphone app for Android, iOS and BlackBerry devices that allows Londoners to identify suspected criminals. Called Facewatch id, the free app allows you to enter a post code and then presents a collection of CCTV images of people wanted for questioning by the police, including over 3,000 people involved in last year’s London riots.
Once a suspect is recognized, the user can submit the suspect’s name and address to the police from directly within the Facewatch id app. All of the information they submit is sent confidentially. The app’s description reads:
If you identify any of the images the application allows you to enter any details that are known, including name and address. The information is then sent directly, and confidentially, to the UK police. Facewatch has been provided with the images by the Police Forces shown on the image ID page and is providing this service on behalf of those Forces.
Mark Rowley, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner, hopes Facewatch id will help the police fight crime and bring criminals to justice:
This is a great opportunity for the public to help us fight crime, and bring those who remain outstanding to justice.
My hope is that the two-thirds of Londoners who own smartphones will download this app, and help us identify those suspects we still need to speak to.
We need Londoners to browse through the app every week or so as new images will appear regularly, this is a fantastic way for Londoners to help us to fight crime.
Everyone has concerns about a possible infringement of civil liberties but most people also wants to see criminals caught. We talked to these groups and they did not have any concerns that those rights were breached by this Facewatch app.
Gordon has also dismissed suggestions that people will abuse the service by making false claims.
Although Facewatch id is currently only available to Londoners, a national rollout is planned throughout 2012. In addition to the smartphone app, users can access the Facewatch service in a web browser on their PC.