Two-year deal to train elite police spotters


German police “super-recognisers” will have their skills tested and developed by the University of Greenwich.

super-recognisersA team from the German federal Bundespolizei, the police force with the largest number of employees in Europe, visited the Greenwich campus, to sign a two-year agreement to work with internationally renowned researchers at the university. The key aim of the research will be to identify police officers with exceptional face-recognition skills.

This research programme is led by Josh P Davis (Professor of Applied Psychology, School of Human Sciences) of the Face and Voice Recognition Lab, under the auspices of the Institute of Lifecourse Development at the university. More than 25 research consultancy contracts have been signed with different international police forces and businesses.

For the Bundespolizei project, Davis's lab team will test existing and new officers with the aim of identifying additional super-recognisers to boost those identified in an earlier project. That two-year project saw over 5,000 officers tested, which led to more than 100 being identified as super-recognisers - the largest number yet in a single project.

Professor Davis said: “In the past decade the University of Greenwich has become established as an international centre of excellence into research on super-recognisers, or people who possess extraordinarily good face-recognition ability.

“Police super-recognisers who have taken University of Greenwich developed tests, designed to identify police super-recognisers for deployment to specialist roles, have since made well over 10,000 identifications of suspects, mainly from CCTV. More than 200 private sector super-recogniser jobs have also been created.

"We would be very interested in working with other police forces or businesses worldwide, so that they can best capitalise on the skills of their own, so far unidentified, super-recognisers."

Please contact if your organisation is interested in identifying its own super-recognisers.

Picture: Pro-Vice Chancellor Derek Moore from the Faculty of Education, Health and Human Sciences welcomed the visitors and witnessed the delegation's leader, Herr Mario Schulz, sign the new contract. Some of the Student Research Assistants from the face and Voice Lab also attended. These were Ryan Jenkins (PhD Psychology), Jaffreen Ahmed (BSc Psychology), Lenka Nemeckova (BSc Psychology and Counselling), and Giorgia Hounkpatin (BSc Criminology and Criminal Psychology).

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