Tag Archives: 2011 England Riots

Recent online articles about super recognizers, and a link to a test

Madhumita Venkataramanan’s article for the BBC (third down) is well worth your reading time. I wonder whether Madhumita might have read my tips for acing or gunning tests of face memory?

UK Cops Using Gifted ‘Super Recognizers’ to Fight Crime

Cathy Burke Newsmax.com

http://www.newsmax.com/International/super-recognizers-facial-recognition-London-Metropolitan-Police-world/2015/06/16/id/650791/#ixzz3dKPCFmgR

‘Super recognisers’ used by the police to identify criminals and spot offenders in crowds

Alexandra Sims

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/super-recognisers-used-by-the-police-to-identify-criminals-and-spot-offenders-in-crowds-10324186.html

The superpower police now use to tackle crime.

Madhumita Venkataramanan

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150611-the-superpower-police-now-use-to-tackle-crime

Are You a Super Recognizer? Test Tells If You’re One of Elite Few Who Never Forgets a Face

Korin Miller

https://www.yahoo.com/health/are-you-a-super-recognizer-test-tells-if-youre-121678964207.html

This Fun Memory Quiz Will Tell You If You Are a ‘Super Recognizer’

Christina Oehler

http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/wellness/a50913/this-fun-memory-quiz-will-tell-you-if-you-super-recognizer/

Testa dig: Hur bra är du på att känna igen ansikten?
Fredrik Claesson

http://pcforalla.idg.se/2.1054/1.631410/kan-du-identifiera-ansiktet

Are YOU a ‘super recogniser’? Take the test to see if you are one of an elite group of people who never forget a face

Ellie Zolfagharifard

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3125173/Are-super-recogniser-test-one-elite-group-people-rarely-forgets-face.html#ixzz3dKS4frpz

Could you be a super-recogniser? (test)

University of Greenwich

 

https://greenwichuniversity.eu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_e3xDuCccGAdgbfT

 

Doco about the UK 2011 riots on Australian television tonight

At 9.30pm on ABC2 (channel 22) an episode in the series Our Crime titled Riot is scheduled for broadcast. It is about the 2011 riots in England, and the CCTV and personal mobile phone footage of the crimes. I don’t know if the role played by police super-recognizers in investigating these crimes will be covered on this TV program, but I guess it might.

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/programs/our-crime/#episode/ZX9697A001S00

I have now watched the program I didn’t notice any discussion of face recognition or supers, but the episode was well worth watching to gain some insight into the way different people think and behave, but mostly to get to know about the amazing Pauline of Hackney. What a star!

Which is superior, human super-recognizers or facial recognition software?

The unit proved especially valuable after riots hit London in the summer of 2011. After the violence, Scotland Yard combed through hundreds of hours of surveillance video. So far, there have been nearly 5,000 arrests; around 4,000 of those were based on police identifications of suspects from video images. The super recognizers were responsible for nearly 30 percent of the identifications, including one officer who identified almost 300 people. A facial recognition software program made only one successful identification, according to Neville.

and another quote

But Brad Duchaine of Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., a psychologist who has published on super recognizers, said he thinks the London police approach makes sense. “People are much better at facial recognition than software (is), so using people is a very reasonable thing to do,” Duchaine said.

AP London police use super recognizers to fight crime. Times of India. September 28th 2013. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/London-police-use-super-recognizers-to-fight-crime/articleshow/23191190.cms

Here’s another quote from another super-recognizer researcher in another article

“The human brain is probably the most complex computer and we do not know of a single computer that can recognise faces as quickly as a human can,” adds Dr Jansari.

Buckland, Danny Police officers’ superhuman ability to recognise faces is being used to fight crime. Express. September 1st 2013. http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/426014/Police-officers-superhuman-ability-to-recognise-faces-is-being-used-to-fight-crime

Here’s a similar quote to another, but from a different article

The super-recognisers were responsible for  nearly 30 per cent of the identifications, including one officer who found around 300 people. However a facial recognition program made  only one successful identification.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2435043/Scotland-Yards-elite-squad-200-super-recognisers-forget-face.html#ixzz2gFVaYvGl Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Camber, Rebecca The man who NEVER forgets the face: How Scotland Yard’s elite squad of 200 ‘super recognisers’ can spot a suspect in a crowd. MailOnline. Daily Mail. September 27th
2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2435043/Scotland-Yards-elite-squad-200-super-recognisers-forget-face.html#ixzz2gFQzxiVF

Story about facial recognition on ABC’s Catalyst tonight left me wondering where the rest of the story was

It seems very odd to me that this television story from Australia’s ABC about face recognition technology and its possible applications to forensic/law enforcement work opened with some compelling images of the 2011 England Riots, but failed to mention the apparently successful application of human face recognition specialists (super-recognizers) by the Metropolitan Police in London to interpreting CCTV images of those riots. Superrecognisers weren’t mentioned at all in the Catalyst report, an important omission, and the value of human face recognition was dismissed lightly by Professor Brian Lovell from the University of Queensland. Prof. Lovell’s areas of expertise are electrical engineering and computer science, so one might not expect him to know a lot about human face recognition. The world’s leaders in research in human face memory and face recognition are generally psychologists. The reporter Anja Taylor chose to focus solely on Australian interviewees and argued that “new facial recognition technology promises crime fighters their greatest gift.” There seem to be a number of contradictions between reporting by Catalyst and media in the UK about the forensic use of CCTV images of the English riots. Catalyst’s technophilic and Austro-centric perspective is a questionable treatment of the subject but I’m not surprised, as I’ve been viewing Catalyst for long enough to realise that it is primarily a bit of light entertainment from the ABC that gives Australian researchers opportunities promote their latest work. I found it quite amusing that the journalist presented face recognition tasks which average humans do rountinely and with ease, tasks such as identifying faces in poor images and identifying a moving face while tracking it, as miracles of technology when a computer system performs these tasks.

It appears that Australia doesn’t have science journalists working in the electronic media, we just have a small group of slick and entertaining radio and TV presenters who have lots of contacts in science and academia. Don’t we deserve better?

May 5th 2012 – Maybe I shouldn’t be quite as harsh about the standard of journalism at Catalyst. I’ve been watching a repeat of last week’s episode of Catalyst, and the report by Anja Taylor about the phenomenon of mass tree deaths and diseases in response to rising temperatures and drought seemed to be excellent work on a very important issue. I can’t claim much knowledge of the subject, but I thought it was good. Taylor interviewed not just one or two, but many different scientists working in various areas of ecological science, and I think it might just be the case that more effort in this report resulted in a better piece of journalism. I just wish Catalyst would stop producing journalism that isn’t done with as much care and effort.

Facial Recognition. Catalyst. Reporter: Anja Taylor. 3 May 2012. http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3494034.htm

Recent TV news story about “Police super-recognisers” from ITV

Unfortunately I can’t view this as it is blocked for viewing by people from outside the UK, and I live in Australia. I think they call it “geoblocking” or “geo-blocking”. I’m not sure why they do it.

It appears that Dr Josh Davis, a researcher from the University of Greenwich who has been studying the elite squad of super-recognizers at London’s Metropolitan Police, was interviewed for this story. I really would be interested in viewing this story. It would be handy if someone would upload it to YouTube, or something. Dr Davis has already been researching the identification of faces in CCTV images for a number of years, so I would think he could certianly be regarded as an expert in the area.

Police super-recognisers. reporter Sharon Thomas London Tonight. London Regional News. ITV. Tue Feb 28 2012 http://www.itv.com/london/police-super-recognisers19305/

Dr Josh Davis http://www.gre.ac.uk/schools/health/contact/staff/pc/josh-davis

May 2012 – I’ve found a link that appears to give video of the story in a number of different segments:

POLICE / CRIME: London riots 2011: Police ‘Super Recognisers’ track down rioters. ITN Source. February 28th 2012. http://www.itnsource.com/en/jp/shotlist/ITN/2012/02/28/T28021245/?v=0&a=1

June 2012 – I found this quote from a Feb 2012 news webpage from the University of Greenwich http://www.gre.ac.uk/offices/pr/wtps/what-the-papers-say-february-2012

“Dr Josh Davis appeared on ITV London Tonight where he said that he thought super-recognisers, able to identify people from grainy and incomplete CCTV images, were born rather than trained. Members of the police with these skills have been tracking down rioters.”

Press article about “The Met”, superrecognizer police, CCTV and UK rioters now available in PDF – thanks Social Perception Lab

This most interesting article by Jack Grimston from last year is now easily accessible on the internet:

Eagle-Eye of the Yard can spot rioters by their ears
by Jack Grimston
Sunday Times, The, 20.11.2011, p12,13-12,13, 1; Language: EN
Section: News Edition: 01
http://www.faceblind.org/social_perception/papers/Supers.pdf

EBSCOhost Accession number 7EH53940939

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/

It appears that this document has been made available through the Social Perception Lab at the Dept of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire in the United States. This lab has an interesting website, where one can find out about prosopagnosia and face recognition, along with even more obscure subjects such as a car memory test and the first documented case of developmental voice agnosia. The list of researchers working there and past associates includes some of the world’s most prominent researchers in face perception, and it is interesting to see some overlap with synaesthesia researchers. Lots of interesting-looking journal papers and book chapters can be accessed in PDF through their website.

Social Perception Lab http://www.faceblind.org/social_perception/index.html

Jack Grimston’s Sunday Times article about the super-recognizers in the Met was published a few months ago, so the info given in it might no longer be completely current, but I think it is still worth writing a brief summary with comments and questions about the piece:

The elite squad of super-recognizer police officers in London’s Metropolitan Police number around 20, out of a police force of 34,000, so super-recognizers are identified at a rate of 1 in 1,700 in this police force. Rare birds or under-recognized?

These super-recognizers have proven to be The Met’s most “effective weapons” at identifying faces in CCTV images of the English Riots of 2011, and computerised face-recognition technology has so far been of limited value.

The superrecognizers are ranked in a league table.

One example of a top performing team member is described. He has identified many faces of offenders in CCTV images as people he has seen from his police duty or from police databases.

This super-recognizer team is led by Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville.

I can’t find any mention in the article of a date when the super-recognizers team was first established, but it does say that Neville was using super-recognizers long before the riots, with one officer showing a definite talent in 2009. This was the same year in which the first ever scientific paper about super-recognizers was published, launching the concept, and in 2009 there was also a lot of media coverage on the subject. It would be interesting to know whether Neville responded very promptly and innovatively to the work of researchers, or whether the use of super-recognizers in the Met developed independently.

One example of a top performing team member is described, and he has identified many faces of offenders in CCTV images as people he has seen from his police duty or from police databases.

This super-recognizer team is led by Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville.

He is seeking out more members for the team using testing.

Testing conducted within “The Met” to identify super-recognizers consists of giving an officer hundreds of images of suspects to look at in 45 minutes, then counting how many suspects the officer recognizes. It is not explained how these identifications are verified as true. I can only assume that an identification is judged as correct if it leads to or is verified by a conviction after the case has gone through the court system, but I do wish there was more explanation of the methodology behind the judgements made about who is a super-recognizer and what is a successful identification, especially in light of the fact that this is a police force, not a university or a psychological research institute. I would love to read a research paper about the super-recognizer team written by an academic from a scientific point of view.

All 20-odd members of the super-recogniser squad in “The Met” are male, which is curious because three of the four first-ever super-recognizers to be identified by psychology researchers are female (75% women). This could be the result of a gender bias resulting from the self-selecting method by which the study subject super-recognizers were identified (women are apparently more likely to volunteer as subjects of psychology studies than men). Nevertheless, we know that super-recognition is not an ability limited to males, so one has got to wonder why there are no females in the elite police team, assuming that women are adequately represented in this police force as a whole. Sexism? Lack of self-confidence in female police officers?

The super-recognizers have been studied by Dr Josh Davis from the University of Greenwich and a paper is in the works.

Dr Davis is of the opinion that being a super-recognizer is inborn more than learned, but is open to the idea that it might be possible to enhance the ability with training.

When one of the top performers in the team explained how he identifies faces from the CCTV images, he spoke of a quite conscious and deliberate process involving the consideration of individual features, not limited to facial features, requiring concentration. Although he mentioned his feelings of enthusiasm for the job, he didn’t mention emotion as a part of the recognition process. I think this seems quite different to the way regular people normally recognize faces – effortless and automatic and based on the whole face, with a feeling of familiarity as the marker for recognition. I also think it is quite different to the way that I typically recognize faces in everyday life and also under pressure while doing the timed CFMT, and I know that my face recognition ability is fairly elite, given my perfect score on the CFMT short form.

I’m interested in reading more about super-recognizers and their role in the workplace, and I’ve got my eye out for more news articles and research papers on these subjects.

Two very interesting articles about the Metropolitan Police and face recognition

Eagle-Eye of the Yard can spot rioters by their ears
by Jack Grimston
Sunday Times, The, 20.11.2011, p12,13-12,13, 1; Language: EN
Section: News Edition: 01
EBSCOhost Accession number 7EH53940939
http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/

This newspaper article from last month is is behind a paywall, so if you don’t have a subscription to this British newspaper, and you do have access to the EBSCOhost online media article service through a public or academic library, you could try logging on to it and in the search box type in “AN 7EH53940939”.

There is much fascinating information in this article about an elite squad of super-recognizers working in London’s Metropolitan Police force to identify faces in CCTV recordings of the England riots. Face recognition technology gets a surprisingly poor review in this article.

Face recognition technology fails to find UK rioters
by Niall Firth
New Scientist
18 August 2011
Magazine issue 2826 August 20th 2011 page 19.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128266.000-face-recognition-technology-fails-to-find-uk-rioters.html

Super-recognizers are not mentioned in this earlier article about the Metropolitan Police identifying faces in CCTV recordings of the England riots, which focuses instead on the limitations and development of face recognition technology.

Thanks for the tip

Through a tweet retweeted by Dr Ashok Jansari at his Twitter account I’ve discovered a most informative UK newspaper article about an elite team of super-recognizers in the Metropolitan Police, which operates around London I think. I’m from Perth in Australia, so “the Met” does not mean a lot to me. I’m off to bed now but I hope to have the opportunity some time soon to share my thoughts about this fascinating insight into super-recognizing as an important and sought-after skill in the world of paid work.