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The wisdom of the crowd: A case of post- to ante-mortem face matching by police super-recognisers

Davis, Josh P., Maigut, Andreea, Forrest, Charlotte
Forensic science international 2019
case studies, face, forensic sciences, males, police
This case report describes novel methodology used to identify a 43-year-old post-mortem photo of a drowned male recovered from a London river in the 1970s. Embedded in an array of foils, police super-recognisers (n=25) possessing superior simultaneous face matching ability, and police controls (n=139) provided confidence ratings as to the similarity of the post-mortem photo to an ante-mortem photo of a man who went missing at about the same time. Indicative of a match, compared to controls, super-recognisers provided higher ratings to the target than the foils. Effects were enhanced when drawing on the combined wisdom of super-recogniser crowds, but not control crowds. These findings supported additional case evidence allowing the coroner to rule that the deceased male and missing male were likely one and the same person. A description of how similar super-recogniser wisdom of the crowd procedures could be applied to other visual image identification cases when no other method is feasible is provided.