South Australian police will join their counterparts in the Northern Territory using facial recognition software to identify offenders or missing persons from CCTV footage.

The South Australian government will make good on an election promise by spending $780,000 to put NEC facial recognition technology in the hands of police by late October.

The technology will enable police “to search, scan and monitor images and video of suspects against offender databases, leading to the faster and more accurate identification of persons of interest.”

It will help police to extract faces from video “in real time and instantaneously match them against a watch list of individuals.”

And it will also be put to work on missing person cases in addition to crime investigations, police said.

“The nature of policing is constantly changing,” SA Police Minister Peter Malinauskas said.

“The sort of challenges that face the South Australian Police force are becoming incredibly more complex and are constantly evolving, and the types of crimes that are being committed in the community require our police force to be ever-vigilant.

“So it’s important that governments make sure they’re resourcing police forces to the extent that we’re giving our police force all the tools they could possibly have to be able to keep our community safe.”

Malinauskas believed the technology would make the lives of officers easier by allowing them to catch “criminals quickly and expeditiously.”

SA Police Superintendent Scott Allison said the technology could help police, for example, recognise persons of interest that drive a stolen vehicle through a fast food outlet.

“Typically those outlets have CCTV vision. We can capture that CCTV vision, pull still shots or small snippets of that CCTV and run it through the NEC facial recognition technology to try and get a match,” Allison said.

The technology was capable of rendering dark or distorted images to improve their clarity, enhancing the chances of a match, he said.

South Australia follows the Northern Territory in looking at the potential of facial recognition technology in law enforcement.

NT Police said late last year that its NEC system had helped to identify some 300 persons of interest in a trial of the technology. It has since decided to use the technology more broadly.

“The system allows personnel in Northern Territory Police to rapidly search through their database of photos and match against any image or CCTV footage, as well as photos taken from body-worn camera videos, drones and phone images,” NT authorities said.

“The chief advantage of face recognition over fingerprint identification is that face images can be captured from a distance without touching the person being identified.”

The move to expand facial recognition comes as authorities also look to capture images themselves rather than simply through CCTV.

Forces in all states and territories are either trialling or deploying body-worn cameras for police officers.

The Queensland Police Service became the first of these agencies to create rules governing when frontline officers are required to activate body-worn cameras this week.