• Josh Davis

Police super-recogniser spotted 406 fugitives in 2019

The Daily Mail reports on Community Support Officer, Andy Pope a police super-recogniser from the West Midlands force who made a record number of 406 identifications of wanted suspects in 2019. Andy visited the University of Greenwich labs to contribute to some of our research a few years ago, and at that time he had identified about 1,000 suspects in total. His successes seem to have doubled, as the Daily Mail claims he has now made over 2,000 suspect identifications. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8010123/Eagle-eyed-police-super-recogniser-spotted-record-406-wanted-suspects-2019.html Andy Pope patrols West Midlands transport hubs as part of their Safer Travel Partnership. This is a clear example of how police forces should cleverly deploy their super-recognisers to ensure highly positive crime detection outcomes. Some researchers have estimated that about 2% of the population share this ability, although those identified as super-recognisers using the University of Greenwich four generic test-type procedures (short-term and long-term face memory, simultaneous face matching, spotting faces in a crowd) are probably far rarer. Andy Pope also became one of the first 20 people in the world to form the Association of Super Recognisers which represents those who possess superior memory skills. https://www.associationofsuperrecognisers.org/ Advocates of computerised face recogniton systems would argue that if similarly deployed, high success rates could be achieved. However, there is a rigorous political debate as to whether these are an invasion of privacy, and so far they have only be employed in very limited circumstances - generating great controversy. It is highly likely that the use of these systems will create novel ethical and moral dilemmas for the next few years. Systems are far more intrusive than CCTV alone. Whatever happens, a large amount of research is required to test reliability in different circumstances. Current ethical principles requiring informed consent from those who may fall under the gaze of such cameras, makes such research hard to conduct and expensive to arrange. The "if you have done nothing wrong you've got nothing to fear" brigade present a highly simplistic viewpoint. Most of us share parts of ourselves widely and openly on social media. However, almost all of us will have secrets we wish to hide from others. And no system ever invented by humans has ever been fail safe. Perhaps those advocating system usage the most, should spare the time to volunteer to contribute to research. Meanwhile, congratulations to Andy. His successes are truly impressive. Remember, since the start of 2019 we have posted the results of all our research projects on our website, www.superrecognisers.com (see news section).

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Supervisor: Dr Josh P Davis

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