Tue
Sep 3 2013 7:45am

London’s Police Super-Recognisers Train Their Eyes on You!

Image by Christine DaniloffThere is an acknowledged condition in which people have extraordinary face-recognition abilities. The opposite is also known, the more worrisome prosopagnosia, that in severe cases keeps sufferers from recognizing their own family's faces.

The Notting Hill Carnival is expected to draw a million paraders and participants, so this year, the Met are employing special officers to watch the crowd for known trouble-makers. According to The Guardian:

...as the two days of celebrations get under way along the carnival route, 17 specialist officers will be holed up in a central control room several miles away in Earls Court monitoring live footage in an attempt to identify known offenders.

Chief superintendent Mick Johnson from the Metropolitan police said it was the first time the “recognisers” – who have been selected for their ability to remember hundreds of offenders' faces – have been used to monitor a live event.

“This type of proactive operation is the first one we have done in earnest in real time so we are going to be looking at it very closely to see how effective it is and what we get out of it,” he said.

The Met has 180 so-called super recognisers – most of whom came to the fore in the aftermath of the London riots when they managed to identify more than a quarter of the suspects who were caught on CCTV footage.

Of course, this wave of the future wouldn't be a feasible approach without the ubiquitous video surveillance London boasts. It's also unclear whether the police's super-recognisers necessarily have a physical difference or an aptitude honed through experience and training, but there's more scientific background (upgrade my fusiform gyrus, please?) at Mind Hacks.

Image by Christine Daniloff via World.Edu.

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