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Forensic Examiners Pass the Face-Matching Test

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The first study to test the skills of law enforcers trained in facial recognition has found that they perform better than the average person and even computers.

The research also suggests that trained facial forensic examiners identify faces in a different way to a small number of “super-recognisers” who are naturally very good at face matching.

“Super-recognisers tested in previous studies appear to rely on automatic, holistic processes when they compare facial images, but forensic examiners use analytical methods,” says Dr David White of UNSW Australia.

“The examiners’ superiority was greatest when they had a longer time to study the images,” White says, “and they were also more accurate than others at matching faces when the faces were shown upside down. This is consistent with them tuning into the finer details in an image rather than relying on the whole face.”

Because of increased use of CCTV, images captured on mobile phones and automatic face recognition technology, the comparison of facial images to identify suspects has become an important source of evidence. “These identifications affect the course and outcome of criminal investigations and convictions,” White says. “But despite calls for research on any human error in forensic proceedings, the performance of the experts carrying out the face matching had not previously been examined...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.