Crime Bytes: Fighting Festival Crime – the new high tech techniques introduced by police this festival season

In the run up to festival season, this article provides a quick insight into the new high tech crime fighting techniques that are being employed by police forces this year, in a bid to tackle organised theft across the country.

In Leicestershire a cashless payment system has been introduced for Download festival, in an effort to reduce the amount of cash at festivals that can be targeted by thieves. Festival-goers have been given RFID wrist tags which can be topped up with credit and can be used at the stalls across the festival site. This also means that businesses onsite are not sitting on large piles of cash during the festival weekend. Although some users have reported issues with these, on the whole the wristbands have been considered a success and are believed to have made the festival a less attractive target.

In a slightly more controversial move, it has also been reported by Police Oracle that this year Leicestershire police will be trialling facial recognition technology at Download festival, in a bid to track down organised criminals operating within the festival site. Cameras placed within the festival will scan over 100,000 attendee’s faces and compare them with a database of custody images from across Europe, in an attempt to locate wanted offenders. In particular, they are hoping to apprehend organised groups that tour the country’s festivals in order to steal mobile phones.

It is yet to be confirmed how successful this technique will be in achieving these aims, but many have protested its introduction, arguing that this level of surveillance is too intrusive – a level of monitoring that is out of proportion with the nature of the threat. The lack of publicity surrounding the trial also led to criticisms that festival-goers were not informed about the initiative in advance, suggesting that the technique is focused more on prosecution than on crime prevention.

To read the full Police Oracle article, please click here. To read more about our previous research into the use of CCTV, or to listen to our director Martin Gill speaking on the topic of CCTV, please click here.

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