The Recollection Autumn 2018

Gilly Crichton    Chief Executive Officer

Gilly Crichton

Chief Executive Officer

Welcome to the autumn edition of The Recollection. The last few months have been exceptionally busy for the Association of Super Recognisers – ASR.
The first ‘licentiate’ training course took place and I was delighted to know all 20 attendees passed the course.  The ‘Admissions Ceremony’ took place in May and I am sure all who attended will agree it was a super day. With over 80 attendees led by the RT HON Lord Lingfield KT DLITT DL presenting the Certificates of Achievements at Apothecaries Hall.

I am delighted to report that the membership continues to grow.  The ASR continues to develop as an organisation with some exciting opportunities with the press, training and speaker opportunities.
Recently I met with Professor Richard Kemp from the University of New South Wales.  He and his department are very excited about the formation of the ASR and seek to develop a branch in Australia.
The head of Facial Comparison from the Forensic Science Department of the Metropolitan Police Service is working with the ASR to develop our joint services.

RT HON The Lord Lingfield KT DLITT DL    Chairman

RT HON The Lord Lingfield KT DLITT DL


History was made on 23rd of May when the first 20 qualified licentiates of the Super Recognisers Association when I proudly awarded their certificates of admission to the Association, having successfully completed their training course and examination.  The ceremony took place in the magnificent Apothecaries Hall.

Apothecaries are traditionally at the heart of the development of new drugs and formulations.
This award ceremony marked a new formulation seeking to combat crime and extremism.  Technology is bounding ahead at an unprecedented pace and automated facial recognition systems are being developed and deployed across the security spectrum.
There has been much discussion in the press recently regarding the use of facial recognition systems recording false positives, for example at the Notting Hill Carnival. 
We also know that some of these automated intelligence systems are good but are not yet perfect.  Society, parliament and civil rights groups will demand more certainty and confidence than that provided only by a machine before committing someone to detention.  The judiciary will need certainty and confirmation of identity.  This is one area where Super Recognisers come into their own. 
The information watchdog warned recently of a loss of public trust in police facial recognition technology, as figures from the biggest force showed that 98 per cent of “matches” found by the software were wrong.
A recent report by Big Brother Watch called for use of facial recognition software by the police to be abandoned. Figures revealed to the privacy campaigners in response to a freedom of information request showed that, for the Metropolitan Police, 98 per cent of “matches” were wrong, and for South Wales Police the figure was 91 per cent.
The Super Recognisers Association comes into play with its Code of Conduct and Global Standard, setting the bar for performance, training and the integrity essential to building trust and confidence in the unique skills of those gifted with Super Recogniser skills.  The Police have used Super Recognisers for many years with the Metropolitan Police Service being the first in the World to have its own Super Recognition unit.
Super recognisers can be deployed to help make event venues safer by recognising drug sellers and tick touts, they can help secure our borders and prevent crime such as shoplifting which costs business, and ultimately shoppers over £7,000,000 per year.
These rare people, with their unique skill of facial recognition, may well be the answer to the problem of false positives of the automated systems – the deployment of a human Super Recogniser can vastly reduce the error rate and help to build public confidence in the modern technology.

Much academic study has gone into looking at what makes a Super Recogniser led by Dr Josh Davis of the University of Greenwich.
The future for Super Recognisers looks very promising both in the UK and overseas.  Super recognition has an increasingly important role to play in gathering evidence, confirming identification, building the intelligence picture and preventing crime.  Now professionally monitored by the ASR, the science is rapidly expanding to address the rising crime figures and challenges of organised crime.

Dr Josh P Davis    Department of Psychology, Greenwich University

Dr Josh P Davis

Department of Psychology, Greenwich University

`Dr Davis has been fundamental in generating research into the Super Recogniser discipline and, indeed, the online testing regime, which has now been taken by over 4 million people around the globe.  Josh has kindly agreed to be the Honorary Chair of the Associations Validation Panel, we are hugely grateful for his help and assistance and long may Greenwich University leads the world in this area. One of the tests used for validation has been taken by over 5,000,000 people although more importantly, all validation tests have be trialled by 100s of super recognisers. 


Kenny Long FSRA    COO - Super Recognisers International

Kenny Long FSRA

COO - Super Recognisers International

The first ‘Fellow’ of the Association – Kenny Long.  Kenny has been a serving police officer at Scotland Yard and is now the Chief Operating Officer of Super Recogniser International who is spearheading the deployment of their officers into new fields and new areas where their skills can make a real difference.

PCSO Andy Pope    Honoured for identifying 1,000 suspects

PCSO Andy Pope

Honoured for identifying 1,000 suspects

Andy has been honoured for identifying more than 1,000 suspects in five years with a Chief Constable’s award.

Colleagues at West Midlands Police have nicknamed Andy the ‘memory man’. Andy has recognised people wanted by the force, sometimes years after they were first sought.  This is exceptional and has not only supported the capture of criminals but to secure justice for victims.



Police forces in the USA and elsewhere are investing widely in technology solutions to tackle crime. James R Sisco  - President of Endo Global Inc, argues that an approach of blending technology, data and human understanding is required to deliver strategies that rebuild trust and set the necessary conditions for policing techniques to be effective.


You look familiar! On patrol with the Met Police Super Recognisers.

Take a look at this article from The Guardian.   Although it was published a while ago it is still relevant today and makes a great read.

Training Courses

To progress to the next stage as a ‘Licentiate’ of the Association, you will need to attend an ASR approved training course. The next course of which we are aware will be run from 10th to 14th September this year in London, organised by Super Recognisers International.

What’s New?

The Observer magazine is meeting with the ASR CEO to discuss an article for the Observer Sunday magazine.

An article about the Association will be published in the World Security Border magazine shortly.


The Need For Legislation To Keep Pace With Technology


The pace of technological advance is increasing all the time.  Devices, which not so long ago existed only in the realm of science fiction, are now everyday items – cell phones and tablets being just one example.  Public debate, the development of standards and legislation simply cannot keep up with the speed of advancement.  There are a number of developments in the security sectors where this effect will become manifest.  The current hot topic relates to autonomous facial recognition systems where public rights groups and some parliamentarians see a ‘big brother is watching you’ style risk to personal freedoms – in this case, the big brother being a computer.

But other such arguments are already in the pipeline.  Robots are the first, which springs to mind.  Soon enough we will see robotic security guards deployed in high value areas.  Isaac Azimov’s ‘rules of robotics’ may be a start point, but they are insufficiently comprehensive to cover this area in detail.  Could roboguards make an arrest or detain a burglar until a human law officer arrives?  Could they defend themselves if attacked?  Could they be armed with non-lethal disabling weapons?

There are a host of unknowns here and the debate has not even begun.  Perhaps one starting point that the private security industry needs to address is how it is represented, or rather not represented, in the press and in parliament.  There has been one attempt to set up an all-party parliamentary group (APPG) for the industry, but this horse fell at the first hurdle.  Likewise, which of the major newspapers has a ‘security industry correspondent’ to keep an eye on a major employer with major ethical and moral issues to address.  In the future these will include artificial intelligence and the advent of the internet-of-things.
One of these issues is the use of Super Recognisers and how they can make a real contribution towards fighting crime and extremism wherever these may occur.


The Death of Soft Power – Part 1

Range Rover

Commissioner Adrian Leppard QPM
Past City of London Police

Society and business are moving at such a fast pace that success or failure is inevitably dependent on the ability of organisations, and those who run them, to adapt and change, more than their ability to conform to accepted norms.

If the Planet Earth were to attend a GP’s health at this moment in time then an urgent referral to a specialist would surely follow.  The Civil Service’s visions of a post-Cold War peace dividend have been proven overly optimistic and now the philosophy of the use of ‘soft power’ is proving to be a fallacy.  The United Nations is divided at the Security Council level which fatally weakens its potential and kinetic effect.  There are bullies on the global stage who simply laugh at authority, be it national or international.  The strife in Ukraine darkens the illusion of peace in Europe as the Balkan tragedy did 15 years ago.  Libya is steadily heading towards failed-state status and Syria remains dangerously divided.  Despite the efforts of the ‘Prevent’ strategy, British born men and women have been turned into hardened jihadist fighters who have witnessed such atrocities and have been radicalised and trained to handle weapons and munitions without any of the checks and balances of the discipline of military ethos.  The risks of re-integrating such men and women back into our society are significant and the dangers are clear and present for all to see.  There is intelligence to indicate an increased threat to civil air transport.  And all this at a time when UK security force levels are in decline.  Soft power will simply not replace hardware, manpower or capability.  The short-lived concept has been consigned to history by the realities of men like Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  The risk of the proliferation of chemical weapons is rapidly increasing following their use in Salisbury during the attack on the Russian agent Colonel Skripal.  While the World burns around us our European partners argue amongst themselves on a self-interest basis and the allies sit back and watch the conflagration grow.  There are no fire breaks and we are not willing to deploy the fire brigades available.    
In his book entitled simply ‘The Future’  ex-vice-president Al Gore describes 6 key drivers of global change which perhaps provide a grand strategic background to all that is going on around us in the World at the moment.  Gore is well known for his work on raising awareness of climate change and he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

Do you have an article or story to tell and would like to have it published? 

0800 773 4869     

Yours faithfully,

Gilly Crichton
Chief Executive Officer