Face recognition app helps detect fugitives

The Hindu
April 15, 2022

The facial recognition app has been provided to 40,000 personnel who are on field and in police stations

In the early hours of a Sunday, two constables were checking vehicles and stopped a man on a two-wheeler with a boy on the pillion. The man informed the police that he was working in SIPCOT and showed his identity card. He told them the boy sought a drop.

When the boy did not give straight answers, the policemen took a snap and checked the photo with the face recognition software (FRS) app on their mobile phones. They identified him by name as a juvenile delinquent and a boy missing case was registered with Kodungaiyur police. He was kept in a home run by NGO for involvement in theft cases within Triplicane police station limits and he had escaped from there. The boy was handed over to Kodungaiyur police for further action.

A history-sheeter, Ravi alias Peter Nilgiris district was involved in property offences since 1984 and even convicted in 14 cases. However, he had been reported absconding since 2002. His case was transferred to Nagercoil Central Crime police station in Kanniyakumari district in 2005 as the Nilgiris district police got a tip-off that he had married a woman and moved to Kanniyakumari. His whereabouts were not known for long. Thereafter, he changed his name to Mohammed Rafiq which was not known to police.

The police considered he might be inactive and therefore closing of the history sheet was being contemplated since more than 20 years passed.

A senior police officer said when it was searched on FRS with his photo, it was found that he had committed six house burglaries in Kottar police station limits and given his name as Syed Mohamed Pugari. It was found that a non-bailable warrant was pending against him in Kottar. Only through FRS, it came to light that Ravi alias Peter and Syed Mohamed Pugari were the same person.

The FRS application was developed by CDAC-Kolkata for Tamil Nadu Police and launched on October 4 last year. There are around six lakh images in CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Networking System) database. As on date, 76 suspects, 473 accused and 359 applicants of passport and other police verification have been found to have criminal cases against them by police personnel using the FRS app. The app has been provided to 40,000 personnel who are on field and police stations.

Additional Director-General of Police (State Crime Records Bureau) Vinit Dev Wankhede told The Hindu that the facial recognition technology was cutting edge biometric technology. “It is used worldwide by law enforcement agencies. The algorithms for FRS are patented and hence the cost of technology is very high as the companies charge per user licence. However, Tamil Nadu Police has developed this with C-DAC Kolkata, which specialises in biometric technology, at one time cost of ₹38 lakh,” he said.

“The technology uses the photographic database of CCTNS in order to ascertain the identity of suspects on the field, during the verification process, and so on. Name-based search gives an extremely large number of matches. On the other hand in FRS, even if the accused has changed his name as happened in one case, the software is able to identify him. TN police is the first in India to launch a State-wide operational FRS application,” said Mr. Wankhede.