LONDON - The Met has been given a new cash handout from the government to expand its use of live facial recognition as the policing minister disclosed that the technology has already trapped an alleged double rapist and around 100 other suspects in one London borough.

Chris Philp said the extra £547,000 being given to Scotland Yard would help it catch more wanted criminals and keep the public safe and formed part of a wider move to increase the use of technology in crime detection.

He said other changes on the horizon included the introduction of hand held knife detection technology, which can be used by police to spot knife carriers from several feet away, as well as the use of drones and artificial intelligence.

But he said the first step would be a further expansion of live facial recognition technology, which has already been used successfully by the Met to identify wanted suspects at locations ranging from the streets of Croydon and Camden to Premier League football matches.

“In Croydon, in the last three or four months alone, over 100 people have been arrested who would not otherwise have been caught including for knife-related offences,” the minister said during a round of media appearances including interviews on Sky News and GB News on Wednesday.

“There was somebody wanted for a double rape , the first of which occurred in 2017, they had not been caught for seven years until the man walked past the camera and got identified.

“That has not gone to court yet, but that is someone wanted for a double rape who would not have been caught.”

He added: “Those are 100 people, often dangerous criminals including that wanted rapist, people who have committed knife offences, drugs offences, firearms offences.

“They would not have been arrested otherwise and they now have been. It’s going to keep the public, you and me and our families safer.”

Critics have claimed that the technology can result in “false positives” and result in disproportionality.

But the Met has insisted that instead it is highly accurate and that in an additional safeguard each deployment involves the use of a specially prepared watch list of suspects which is deleted immediately afterwards.

Mr Philp said he was also convinced that the live facial recognition cameras operated fairly and added: “All that has to happen to do that is you and me get scanned and our picture then gets immediately and automatically deleted.

“That makes public safety a lot, lot better. I think it does strike the right balance.”

He rejected accusations that the facial recognition cameras were part of a “Big Brother” state.

The extra money for the Met’s mobile live facial recognition units is part of a £4 million investment in the development of new police technology set out by the Home Office today.

Mr Philp said he was also optimistic about the potential for knife detection devices in tackling street violence.

He said he had this week been shown a US version of the technology which allowed officers “to scan people at a distance who are carrying knives”.

The minister, who is the MP for Croydon South, added: “I’m hoping by the end of the year that [technology] can be deployed experimentally or in a test way and if that works that could really transform the police’s ability to take knives off the street.”

As well as the arrrests in Croydon, other successes by the Met from the use of live facial recognition include the arrest of a man for an alleged breach of a sexual harm prevention order following a deployment in Clapham adn the arrest of 11 suspects after the cameras were used in Sutton and Woolwich. Those held included three men wanted for possession of an offensive weapon, one of whom was found with a knife.

Other arrests involved a man wanted for robbery, burglary and other offences, and a woman wanted for malicious communications.