Updated: Sep 2

School of Human Sciences

Face and Voice Recognition Lab

Institute of Lifecourse Development

University of Greenwich

London

www.superrecognisers.com

super-recognisers@Greenwich.ac.uk

Twitter: @GRecognisers


There has been much interest in super-recognisers and our research in the German media recently. Three articles on super-recognisers in Baden-Württemberg have recently been published, and a member of the German Parliament (Bundestag) has also been commenting on the use of SRs in Junge Welt. See below for summaries of each article.


Stuttgart: super-recogniser skills


A new article on super-recognisers has been published (25 August 2021).

The article published in Anzeigenblatter, describes some of the skills of one of the super-recognisers from Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany leading the team identified by the University of Greenwich. He mainly works in the office presumably checking CCTV and other images. However, he occasionally travels to areas where pickpockets and other suspects operate with the aim of perhaps catching them in action.

Interestingly he claims to be poor at naming faces, something other super-recognisers have commented too. This is being researched in the summer of 2021 by Katie Read (University of Greenwich, BSc Psychology, British Psychological Society (BPS): Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme award winner) in her research supervised by Josh Davis.

A link to the Anzeigenblatter article (in German) can be found here: https://bit.ly/38BJKPo

An English translation is here:

Stuttgat profile
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Download PDF • 2.29MB

From reading the article it is perhaps not surprising the Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister of Baden-Württemberg state, Germany, Thomas Strobl, issued a statement earlier in 2021 describing how our team at the University of Greenwich successfully started working with Stuttgart Police to identify over 10 super-recognisers in their workforce in 2018/2019 - see below for more details.


Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister of Baden-Württemberg Statement


The Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister of Baden-Württemberg state, Germany, Thomas Strobl, issued a statement this week describing how our team at the University of Greenwich successfully started working with Stuttgart Police to identify over 10 super-recognisers in their workforce in 2018/2019. The next stage of this project started in February 2021 with the testing of all volunteer recruits.

The media also described how rioting in June 2020 in Stuttgart resulted in months of investigations in which super-recognisers were called in to assist in identifying rioters. The 10 Stuttgart super-recognisers selected to work on this operation have so far helped identify 130 suspects, while 79 arrest warrants have been issued and 26 suspects are now held in custody. The identification will have led police investigatory teams to locate additional evidence in the case.


Judges have so far imposed a total of 40 years of imprisonment partly based on these identifications.


See here for the full story: https://www.stimme.de/suedwesten/nachrichten/pl/nach-krawallnacht-sucht-polizei-randalierer-mit-fahndungsfotos;art19070,4457606


English version (PDF) for download here:


After the night of the Stuttgart riot, t
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Police testing at the Hochschule für Polizei Baden-Württemberg


Another article describes how police recruits at the Hochschule für Polizei Baden-Württemberg are having their abilities tested to see if any are super-recognisers. See bottom of the page for typical testing procedures used. Early days – but watch this space. https://www.stimme.de/deutschland-welt/politik/dw/taetererkennung-polizei-setzt-auf-super-recogniser;art295,4460056


English version (PDF) for download here:


Detection of perpetrators- Police rely o
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Download • 551KB

Please see here for a previous success story of off-duty Stuttgart super-recognisers spontaneously identifying fugitives: https://www.superrecognisers.com/post/uni-of-greenwich-tested-off-duty-stuttgart-police-super-recognisers-spontaneously-identify-fugitives


Please see here for the official Baden-Württemberg press release and a quote from the Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister below: https://www.baden-wuerttemberg.de/de/service/presse/pressemitteilung/pid/polizei-etabliert-super-recogniser-1/


English version (PDF) for download here:


Frankfurt police use Super Recognizer
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Download PD • 1.66MB

“The investigations into the night of the Stuttgart riot in June 2020 have very special challenges... The police brought light into the darkness here - among other things by relying on the special skills of their officers. From the beginning, the investigators at the Stuttgart police headquarters used so-called super recognizers. These are people who have outstanding skills in memorizing and recognizing faces or individual parts of their faces. This is an innate talent that only around two percent of the population have."

- Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Thomas Strobl.


German Parliament Comments


A member of the German Bundestag (the national parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany) also justifiably provides a word of caution about the use of SRs in Junge Welt - this is we believe the first political criticism to be published:


https://www.jungewelt.de/artikel/409089.superrecognizer-analoge-gesichtserkennung.html


This "rare ability of some people" could be important for investigations, but should "not replace normal investigative craft". The super-recognizer only identified suspects after the “Stuttgart night of riot”. "Whether or not they are actually involved and what crimes they may have committed must first be proven in court," Jelpke told jW on Wednesday. The mere testimony of a police officer, even if he has special skills, does not seem sufficient to her. In general, the left-wing politician sees the danger "that above all the data collection mania of the security authorities is served, who fill their suspect catalogs with personal profiles - this time not with the help of a machine but with human supercops."

Josh Davis noted that "I agree with all of this but of course it is designed to sensationalise and worry elements of the public. A court of law should clearly always scrutinise all evidence before conviction. All humans including super-recognisers make errors".



Useful information: testing procedures


Davis (2019) provides a brief description of the University of Greenwich four-type three-phase testing procedures used for policing.

Davis, J. P. (2019). The worldwide impact of identifying super-recognisers in police and business. The Cognitive Psychology Bulletin; Journal of the British Psychological Society: Cognitive Section, 4, 17-22. ISSN: 2397-2653. https://shop.bps.org.uk/the-cognitive-psychology-bulletin-issue-4-spring-2019

(Pre-print: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/2ybau)


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