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Home Office plans £16m facial recognition system to fight passport fraud

The system needs to be able to handle 20,000 adult applications per day

The Home Office's Identity and Passport Service (IPS) is planning to implement a facial recognition system that will help the department determine an applicant's entitlement to and eligibility for a British Passport.

IPS needs the system to be capable of handling 5.4 million applications per annum, which can be as many as 20,000 adult applications per day.

An online tender states that IPS is planning to incorporate automated facial recognition checks into its passport issuing process to assist in the detection of passport fraud. The system will also need to be re-usable by other customers within the Home Office, or other public sector bodies.

IPS wants to procure both a facial recognition engine and a facial recognition workflow capability, to manage the applications through the system.

The vendor chosen to supply the engine will be required to pre-populate the database with existing photo records; add, amend and delete records when instructed by the facial recognition workflow; be able to perform automated and manually initiated biometric verification and biometric identification checks; bulk load passport biometric and biographic information; and be able to store up to 60 million images and process up to 20,000 applications a day.

The system should also be able to deliver a biometric verification in under 10 seconds on 99.5 percent of searches.

IPS said that the winner of the facial recognition engine lot will be required to integrate its software with the winner of the workflow system lot, ensuring the authority receives an effective end to end system. IPS said: "The suppliers are expected to work together collaboratively to deliver the requirements."

Both systems will cost the Home Office up to £15 million, with contracts set to last a minimum of five years, with the possible extension of up to two further years.

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