Innovative technology trial has been launched to safeguard Southampton’s night-time economy

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12 December 2023

Southampton Business Crime Partnership (SBCP) has now introduced technology to assist door staff in a trial to ensure the city’s night-time economy remains a safe place.

Southampton was awarded Purple Flag status earlier this year. The coveted award, organised by the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM), recognises cities and towns that take measures to ensure their vibrant centres are safe, diverse, vibrant, appealing, well-managed, and offer a positive experience to consumers during the evening.

Now, the SBCP, run and managed by GO! Southampton, has launched this new facial recognition technology in a trial to help tackle crime in the city centre. It’s an extension of the SBCP’s already successful ‘Red Card’ Scheme.

The ‘Red Card’ scheme includes all of Southampton’s Licensing Link premises, on the basis of ‘banned from one, banned from all’ for individuals whose behaviour falls short of the standards expected at licensed premises.

The new trial, which will run for three months across seven venues in the city centre, has been launched by the BID alongside, Reveal Media, Synergy Security and local businesses to test the latest generation body-worn cameras which incorporates facial recognition technology.

The cameras are being worn by door staff with the aim of being able to identify excluded offenders in the night-time economy more quickly and easily by alerting staff if someone is trying to gain entry when they have previously been banned.

Jade McCauley, Operations Manager at GO! Southampton said: “We have only recently gone live with the trial and it’s already helping door staff, as the technology has identified a few people from the banned list who shouldn’t have been trying to access venues in the city centre. We’re already pleased with how it’s working.”

The trial will use Reveal Media’s digital evidence management system, DEMS 360, which is also deployed by around 70% of UK police forces. The secure, encrypted DEMS 360 deployed by GO! Southampton has uploaded information and images of offenders in the city who have been excluded from the city centre via the Red Card scheme, issued by Southampton Business Crime Partnership.

Jade continued: “In Southampton we have won awards for our approach to safety in the night-time economy but we think we can always go further, and we’re committed to reducing crime and keeping the city centre a great place to be.

“Fully funded by Reveal, this is an exciting opportunity to test emerging technology in a proportionate fashion to further ensure a safe night out for everyone.

“The information will be available on the body cameras that door staff will wear.

“When the camera recognises one of these offenders, the security staff will be signalled and then they can liaise with venue staff to turn the offender away and notify CCTV and local Police to deter them from reoffending.

“If a person is not recognised on the cameras, data will be instantly and permanently deleted from the system within microseconds as the camera will only be matching against the images of those currently banned, which represent 65 known offenders.”

The decision to trial facial recognition was taken following a comprehensive legitimate interest impact assessment to evaluate it being used in a compliant, legal and ethical manner. With the increasing number of banned individuals on the Licencing Link scheme, the assessment concluded that there was not a more reasonable or proportionate method to achieve the same results without increasing the risk of individuals entering premises undetected, or processing excessive amounts of personal data.

The technology will stop these banned individuals from accessing entry through other means such as the use of fake IDs, attempts to change appearance or simple human error will be prevented.

Jema Paull from Synergy Security said: “We’ve been looking forward to trialling the technology, and it’s already acting as an extra defence in keeping known offenders out of the clubs and pubs and helping protect those people who are just out to have a good time, as well as our staff in these venues.

Alasdair Field, CEO of Reveal said: “This trial with GO! Southampton and Synergy Security epitomises the considered and careful approach we envisage for the application of facial recognition. The vision of adding a layer of proactive detection and intelligence to assist with the simple aim of keeping people safe is a core motivation for us as we continue to drive enhanced body-worn video, and we’re looking forward to seeing how our solution benefits both door staff and revellers in Southampton”.

GO! Southampton is the first BID in the country to trial this technology. For more information don’t he trial you can view our FAQs here. 

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