Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Facial recognition trialled by Foodstuffs

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Seven supermarkets in the North Island are part of the initial trial with just one in Auckland – Pak’nSave Silverdale.

Foodstuffs North Island (FSNI) has started trialling the use of facial recognition (FR) as part of its ongoing fight against retail crime.

Seven supermarkets in the North Island are part of the initial trial with just one in Auckland – Pak’nSave Silverdale.

A spokesperson for the group told the Times that while none were in east Auckland, this could change as the trial was expanded.

The trial is taking place in up to 25 North Island stores and is currently intended to run for up to 6 months.

FSNI said the technologies’ ability to help better identify repeat offenders and thereby reduce harmful behaviour in store will help Foodstuffs North Island determine if FR is adopted more widely by the group, a 100 per cent NZ-owned co-operative of more than 300 grocers across the North Island.

“Everyone has the right to a safe working environment and a safe place to buy their groceries,” said Foodstuffs North Island chief executive, Chris Quin.

“This trial of FR in our stores is part of our commitment to keeping our teams and customers safe.

“Sadly, retail crime is a growing problem, here and overseas. Our North Island stores recorded 4719 incidents in the October-December quarter of 2023 alone. That’s 34 per cent more than the 3510 recorded in the previous quarter.

“Shockingly, one of our security team was stabbed recently and our people are being punched, kicked, bitten and spat at. We’re seeing over 14 serious incidents a week, including an average of two assaults.”

Quin said all too often it was the same people coming back to their stores despite having already been trespassed, committing more crime, and often putting team members and customers at risk of abuse and violence.

“We have a moral and legal duty to make our stores as safe as possible for our teams and customers and we think facial recognition has the potential to help by identifying repeat offenders when they try to come back into our stores,” said Quin.

“All images in the FR system will be instantly deleted unless a person has committed a crime, has been aggressive, violent or threatening towards our team members or customers, or has actively assisted in such harmful behaviour. This is a high threshold.

“The trial is important because we hope to establish if FR will help keep our people and customers safe without compromising their privacy.

“When preparing the trial, we’ve been very thorough in ensuring we respect the privacy of our customers, including having a specialist, independent organisation design and review the trial – they’ll also evaluate the results.

“We’ve also engaged with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to ensure they’re well briefed and aware of how the trial will work.”

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