Facial recognition technology is set to be used in Southend in a first for Essex as part of targeted police action next week.

As part of Essex Police work to tackle criminals who pose the greatest risk to the county's communities, officers will be carrying out activity targeting offenders next week.

This operation will see live facial recognition technology used for the first time in Essex during activity in Southend on Tuesday October 24.

It will also be used in Chelmsford the following day, on Wednesday October 25.

Detective Superintendent Stephen Jennings said: “We’re committed to tackling those who pose the greatest risk to our communities and we’re utilising innovative technology to do this.

“This will help us keep the public safe and get justice for victims.

“Live facial recognition (LFR) technology is targeted to focus on people wanted in connection with specific offences.

“The technology compares live camera feeds of faces against a predetermined database or ‘watch list’ of people of interest.

“Only images of specific people wanted in connection with high harm and/or violent crimes appear on that database.

“When there’s a positive match, appropriate action will be taken by officers on the ground.

“If you’re not on the ‘watch list’, your face cannot be matched.”

Work by officers to crackdown on violent, sexual, and domestic offences has seen reports of these incidents fall over the past 12 months, while knife-enabled crime is also down.

Proactive work has also seen the number of possession of weapons and drug trafficking offences increase.

Det Supt Jennings added: “We take your privacy very seriously and images of members of the public will not be stored.

“If you walk through an area where LFR is being deployed and you are not one of the specific people we’re trying to locate, your image will be immediately and automatically deleted.

“It will not be held on a database, it will not be remembered, and it will not be kept.

“South Wales Police are providing the technology for this deployment and there has not been one single wrongful arrest because of their use of facial recognition.”