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Garda's new face-recognition tools to identify criminals ... and Beckham

Gardai unveiled their latest photofit technology by demonstrating samples from the UK including a rapist, a robber, a suspected bike thief . . . and former footballer David Beckham.

The new Evo-FIT system will enable gardai to build the most accurate composites of suspects in a whole range of serious crimes and has dramatically improved suspect identification rates in the UK.

Evo-FIT is different from the old CD-fit system as it uses recognition memory of witnesses rather than recall memory.

Gardai launched the new system with samples including images of Beckham.

The former LA Galaxy's publicist firm Rogers and Cowan told the Herald that they "would not be commenting" on the use of the former footballer's image at yesterday's launch.

Gardai said Evo-FIT has already been used to identify two suspects behind serious crimes committed here in the three weeks it has been up and running.

Using the software, gardai ask witnesses to remember a criminal's face, including distinguishing features such as gender, race and age, as a whole.

They are then presented with a series of faces from a database which resemble what they saw.

As they progress through the phases, the faces are whittled down as a more-accurate picture is created of the suspect as remembered by a victim or witness to a crime.

The programme, which only cost €11k to design, has a series of 'holistic' tools which can augment the face in a range of ways including making faces older or younger, adding or removing stubble or changing skin complexion.


An image is then created which gardai can use in their investigations. The image can be distributed among gardai or sent to media outlets as part of public appeals.

Det Sgt Paul Curran said the technology "taps into recognition memory".

"This is the witness's ability to recognise a face, so instead of now having to describe individual features, they're asked to remember the face as a whole and also try to recall the character or personality of the individual."

So far six Facial Identification Officers, based in the Photographic Section in Garda headquarters in Dublin, have been trained in using the technology.