Composite sketches of crime suspects are often inaccurate, mainly because they are made up of separate facial features, whereas people usually recognize based on seeing the face as a whole — the features of the face and the relationship between features. Psychologist Charlie Frowd and his colleagues have developed a new and a far-more effective alternative to the traditional composite sketch or identikit.
Dr Frowd is Senior Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston in North-West England. He is also a Chartered Psychologist and Chartered Scientist registered with the British Psychological Society. Together with colleagues Vicki Bruce (Newcastle University) and Peter Hancock (University of Stirling), Charlie developed EvoFIT that bases its composite images on the face as a whole. Witnesses choose a number of faces resembling that of the perpetrator. By repeatedly selecting and combining these faces with one another, an image of the perpetrator evolves, more closely matching his or her identity.
Research has revealed that the new method is about ten times more effective than the traditional ‘feature’ method. EvoFIT was first adopted by the British police and is now also in use in Europe and the US.