Swedish police want to introduce facial recognition technology to fight crime

The technology analyzes images, including those from surveillance cameras. File photo: Adam Wrafter / SvD / TT

Swedish police reportedly want to introduce new facial recognition technology to help identify criminal suspects after testing the technique this spring.

The computer programme recognizes and matches images of suspects, for example those taken from surveillance cameras, with images of people already in the police register. The register contains over 40,000 images of people who have been detained or arrested on suspicion of crime.

“It goes without saying that it takes a very long time to go through tens of thousands of photos manually, so with the technology we can do that faster,” Martin Valfridsson from the Swedish police told TV4 Nyheterna.

“The principle is roughly the same as when we search fingerprints and DNA,” he said.

During the test period this spring, images of 83 unknown suspects were analyzed, and around a quarter resulted in a match in the register. Now police want the technology to be a permanent part of their work. 

The Swedish Bar Association’s general secretary Anne Ramberg was however critical of the new technology, which will need to be approved by the Data Inspection Board before it can be introduced.

“It’s a question of individual freedom and the right to exercise democratic rights,” she told TV4.

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