“Big Brother is watching you.”

George Orwell's famous line from 1984 might have seemed far fetched when it was published in the 1940s. 

But in the 21st century it could be argued the phrase is true in many aspects of our lives. 

From CCTV on our streets and everywhere from nightclubs to supermarkets and camera doorbells on every road we are being filmed going about our daily lives. 

Now facial recognition is becoming more common place with police using it to track down criminals. 

High profile examples include it being used to police Palestine marches in London and in Essex it was utilised for the first time in Southend High Street last month.

But some argue it has no place on our streets or in any other areas of our lives.

It has been branded as an "unjustified expansion" of state surveillance when some believe there are numerous alternatives.

But Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington said the addition of facial recognition in Essex Police's arsenal is to keep the community safe. 

He said: “This is not going to be the 1984 George Orwell monitoring, it will be very clear and the guidance we have from the College of Policing is very clear about our consultation.

“We have to make it public so people know we are not doing it covertly, we are also engaging with our police, fire and crime commissioner to make sure we are held to account and delivering policing in an ethical way.

“We as officers will make sure that we operate in a way that’s ethical and proportionate to what we’re trying to achieve.”

There are two types of facial recognition being used by police forces. 

The first way is retrospective facial recognition which is capturing a suspect walking away on a doorbell camera footage or CCTV.

These images are now being put into the national police database containing millions of people who have been arrested or charged with criminal offences.

Chief Con Harrington added: “These photos are held as part of police records and three out of ten of these photographs are leading to suspects being identified.

“That’s amazing because it means that victims are getting justice more quickly and suspects are being identified more quickly.”

The second type is live facial recognition which Essex police trialled in October.

Chief Con Harrington said: “Once identified through live facial recognition we still go through regular procedures of approaching the suspect, looking for identity documents and more.

“It's just going to demonstrate how Essex police is trying to use technology alongside traditional tactics to try and keep the community safe.”

Police forces have heralded facial recognition as “game-changing”. 

But only time will tell if the public will come to accept it.