Grampian police have become the first force north of the border to try facial recognition technology to identify suspects, but privacy campaigners have condemned the move as a waste of time.
The ID-2000 software comes from American firm Imagis, whose chairman - Oliver 'Buck' Revell - is the former associate deputy director of the FBI.
The company's UK partner Steria, which provides command and control technology to half the Scottish forces and one in three in England and Wales, is responsible for the project's installation.
ID-2000 scans video, pictures and even artist impressions of criminals and matches them to a database of suspects at up to 15 million records a minute. It scans 692 points on the face and claims to be able to work even when suspects try to alter their appearance with a beard or glasses.
It has already been tried in custody suites in cases where the police think a suspect may be giving false identification or is too intoxicated to answer questions.
Even though fingerprint searches are now automated, the face recognition system promises quicker results and is seen as less intrusive. Grampian police claim success rates have been as high as 80 or 90 per cent.
"We like to think we're a technologically savvy force," said chief inspector Carl Ashcroft. "It's not the be-all and end-all and in the first stage we'll restrict it to custody units. In the longer term, and I'm talking in months rather than years, we want to link this to public CCTV systems."
Chief inspector Ashcroft added that the cost of installing the software was in the low tens of thousands of pounds, and that he expects to see return on investment within a few months, thanks to freeing up police time and getting more forces out on the streets.
But Simon Davies, director of human rights group Privacy International, is unconvinced by the project. "The community would be better serviced by installing garden gnomes on street corners," he said.
"This technology seldom works outside a staged environment, and there's no way it will work in an open environment because the number of false positives would be huge.
"This project is a case of well-meaning amateurs being mesmerised by sexy technology."
A mass trial of facial recognition systems by the US Department of Defense in 2000 found that even the best systems performed poorly in normal conditions. To detect 90 per cent of suspects operators would need to stop one in every three people passing through the system.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago