The National Crime Squad is using facial recognition software in the fight against paedophiles.
The unit has invested £500,000 in ChildBase, bespoke facial recognition software based on technology developed by Canadian company Imagis Technologies.
The system enables investigators to link images of abused children to suspects much faster than is possible today. Technical details of the system are being withheld so that criminals are not provided with information on how to combat it.
"The system is fantastic," said a spokeswoman for the National Crime Squad.
"We have spent thousands of man-hours developing the system and we want children to know that we are doing something about identifying paedophiles."
The system's database relies on some 850,000 images taken from past investigations, such as Operation Cathedral, which cracked the 'Wonderland Club' of internet paedophiles in 1998.
Paedophiles often download thousands of images of abuse. But presently each one must be manually retrieved and categorised - a mammoth task that takes up huge amounts of police time and resources so that much of the evidence is left unretrieved.
With ChildBase, images are logged and cross-referenced automatically, matching up new images which have no clues to their history with images that have previously been analysed.
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