Facewatch Yesterday, the Big Brother Watch team had the chance to preview a recently launched system designed to improve the ease by which shop-owners and licence premises are able to report low-level crimes to the Police force. 

The system, which is being marketed under the name ‘Facewatch’, is designed to help cut the levels of bureaucracy associated with using CCTV to secure convictions. 

When reporting a crime, the CCTV operator using the system is able to search through his own footage and select a short clip of the suspected crime being committed which can then be transmitted directly to the Police officer who will handle the case directly. As such, footage of innocent members of the public never makes it into the hands of Police and can be routinely deleted at source.

From Big Brother Watch's point of view, one of the most attractive elements of the system was that it removes the need for CCTV operators to hand over either vast reels of video tape or CDs to the Police which are ultimately lost due to officer error.  Indeed, the problem of accidental data loss by police force has been highlighted on this blog twice in the last week.  Similarly, we were comforted by the pledges made by the developer to work closely with the Information Commissioner in order to ensure data protection concerns are taken into consideration as it is rolled out across the country. 

At Big Brother Watch, we always cautious about the ways in which CCTV footage is used, yet it certainly seems that Facewatch is taking a step in the right direction when it comes to using technology to secure convictions while at the same time ensuring that the privacy of innocent members of the public is protected.

Facewatch’s website can be found here

Posted by on Feb 16, 2011 in Home | 13 Comments


  1. Paul
    17th February 2011

    Is there extra cost involved with this? if so, I would rather just hand footage to the Police as I have done in the past. Businesses are struggling at the moment without the extra spend required on something like this.

  2. James Baker
    17th February 2011

    So long as other users can’t see what you have uploaded, and their plans for placing it on mobile platform are secure.

  3. Richard Craven
    17th February 2011

    I don’t really see how this is going to help. On what basis will the police trust the cctv operator’s judgement? Surely it will become routine for the police, when supplied with the section of tape considered relevant by the cctv operator, to demand the whole tape on the not unreasonable grounds that the cctv operator has missed something; thus ensuring that innocent people continue to be filmed and scrutinised by the authorities.

  4. Deborah
    17th February 2011

    What about being followed (by camera) by a mallicious shop or bar worker? What constitutes a low level crime? What’s suspicious behaviour? Rushing? sweating? Wearing a hat? Being drunk? Or actually stealing? BBW needs to be aware that there may be many people with self-interests out there at the moment. Maybe they’ve contracts to keep (and money to earn)both in shops and with ‘protection’ contracts. Also digital stuff can be ‘messed with’. And more importantly The Protection of Freedoms Bill a)isn’t yet enacted b)doesn’t cover the private sector. Please beware. NB I’ve no objection to bobbies in shopping centres etc, but this facewatch, in my opinion, is infringment of liberties

  5. NeverSurrender
    17th February 2011

    I’m with you Deborah. Facewatch is just another erosion of our liberties. Do you ever feel that you are being stalked by the state?

  6. Mike Williams
    20th February 2011

    Oh dear, looks like facewatch has been a victim of crime! so much for that big brother idea… //www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/the-city-diary-whos-really-pulling-the-strings-2219855.html

  7. John
    22nd February 2011

    As a shop owner I feel that the Facewatch logo helps to scare off criminals from entering in the first place. If this makes customers feel safer and keeps thieves out then I’m happy. Facewatch stops the police nosing through all of the CCTV footage and makes it easier for the victim to sort things out with the police.

  8. Sal
    22nd February 2011

    This is definitely an improvement on the current system. Less police snooping and more power given to those effected.

  9. Jon
    14th April 2011

    this is all a bit pie/eye in the sky for me. I see lots of press but no results mentioned? Is this working?

  10. German_Girl
    26th June 2012

    I really can’t believe that there’s so few people complaining about the incredible violation of privacy through police, CCTV and this new denunciation-App “Facewatch ID” in Great Britain. What about the “in dubio pro reo”-principal? Is pseudo-security so much more worth than freedom of the individual in Britain?

  11. V
    27th June 2012

    Why we, the people, do not fight the big brother defendindg our own rights? Soon, there will not be any right to protect, neither democratic nation, or privacy rights for us, the citizens.If we sacrificed our oun rights in the name of security, in fact, we are losing everything: security, rights, and dignity.Please, consider that surveillance is not equal to security.The science has already advanced a lot, so the investigation of crimes could be easily done by the pursuit of clues and reasoning deduction process; and without the presence of an omniscient State.

  12. B
    4th December 2013

    This should be resisted not praised. I am obviously on facewatch despite no criminal activity and now basically cannot shop without problems. Assaulted by security yesterday.

    Soon I won’t be able to go anywhere bars pubs shops .. My workplace probably next. What then.

  13. Fe
    14th September 2014

    i went out to see a band the other night in Camden & i was asked to provide ID for scanning & an email address to be provided for future marketing as condition of entry!! i wanted to see the band but i am not a desperate sheep prepared to hand over personal details & to be distrusted just to see a band. i was told that this policy was part of their licensing conditions and it helps to weed out troublemakers & then have them barred from other premises that subscribe to the system. I’m all for crime reduction but i am not prepared to hand over id & be treated a potential criminal. Find the criminal, prosecute/bar them & hand their details to the relevant authorities!! Liberty is more important than money!!