UK Stores Are Using Facial Recognition to Track Shoppers

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UK Stores Are Using Facial Recognition to Track Shoppers
Short Title British Grocer Southern Co-op Are Using Cameras to Look for Potential Shoplifters
Location Great Britain
Date December 2020

Taxonomy Surveillance, Exclusion, Identification
Information Physical Characteristics, Identifying, Location, Criminal
Threat Actors Co-op shops, Facewatch

Affected Co-op shops visitors
High Risk Groups
Secondary Consequences

Branches of Co-op in the south of England have been using real-time facial recognition cameras to scan shoppers entering stores.


In December 2020 18 shops from the Southern Co-op franchise have been found using the technology of real-time facial recognition cameras in an effort to reduce shoplifting and abuse against staff.Surveillance

While shops with face recognizing cameras displayed signs telling customers about its operation, no general public announcement was made before the trials started.

Southern Co-op is using facial recognition technology from Facewatch, a London-based startup.

Every time someone enters one of the 18 shops using the tech cameras scan their faces. Using the footage from cameras the software is able to identify “subjects of interest”, for instance, people who were seen on cameras stealing from the shop or displaying antisocial behaviour or generally anyone they did not wish to see in their shop. They would therefore create and store a list of effectively blacklisted individuals. By scanning the faces of everyone who enters a shop and comparing them to the faces of those blacklisted, Facewatch is able to identify if a person who enters is on the blacklist or not. Identificaiton

The system alerts store teams immediately when someone enters their store who has a past record of theft or anti-social behavior. Such instant background check can be seen as Exclusion.


Threat: Co-op shops watching people through cameras in the stores
At-Risk group: Co-op visitors
Harm: Surveillance
Secondary Consequences: not known

Threat: Co-op using Facewatch facial recognition to do an instant check whether the person entering the shop is in the blacklist
At-Risk group: Co-op visitors
Harm: Exclusion
Secondary Consequences: potentially: Banishment

Threat: Facewatch facial recognition system comparing the face of the person to the multiple people on the database
At-Risk group: Co-op visitors
Harm: Identification
Secondary Consequences: potentially: Banishment

Risk Statistics

Laws and Regulations

Sources social-type=earned