An organisation is born!
From an idea to a functional, effective organisation in just under one year!
2018 has proven to be an incredible first year for your new Association of Super Recognisers.
The ASR began its existence in order to address the challenge of a focal issue: an organisation was required to ‘professionalise’ the relatively new science of super recognition. The issue facing the science was that anyone could call themselves a ‘super recogniser’ without confirming their ability, their credibility or their level of skill. So, the Association was formed with everything to play for – with no established baseline, no agreed standard and thus a major project to undertake!
The ASR was established as a ‘not for profit, limited by guarantee’ organisation in late 2017. In January 2018, the board was formed with Lord Lingfield as Chairman, Brigadier Jeff Little as Company Secretary and myself in the role of Chief Executive Officer.
Super Recognisers International (SRI) as the only established SR commercial delivery organisation – led by Mike Neville and Kenny Long - provided sage advice in conjunction with Dr Josh Davis from the University of Greenwich and the ASR began to recruit its first members - a signal moment regarding its future intent.
Nevertheless, on a hot and sunny summer’s day in May, the first ‘Admission Ceremony’ took place in the historic Apothecaries Hall in the City of London which dates back to 1672. The excitement was tangible as the candidates, alongside their families and friends, took their places in the historic Hall. The very new ASR, alongside the very traditional Hall made great companions. Everyone I spoke to was in awe of this very special building, which was hosting our special event and the fact that they were present a moment of significant scientific history.
The first training course for ‘Licentiates’ ran in February, led by Mike, Kenny and Jeff, with Dr Craig Donald, from South Africa flying into London to lead the Behavioural Analysis modules.
We were honored to have Lord Lingfield open the proceedings giving his welcome address and then proceeding to present the first certificates. For many candidates, meeting a real Lord and then receiving their formal recognition made this a red-letter day. Kenny Long was made the first Fellow of the Association in recognition of his extensive work as a super recogniser with the Metropolitan Police Service and subsequently with SRI. Dr Josh Davis became the first Honorary Fellow in recognition of his academic work and his support of the establishment of the ASR. After the formal proceedings were complete, all enjoyed refreshments and went home happily clutching their new certificates and new post nominal letters of LASR.
Andy Pope from the West Midlands Police received a commendation for his work as a super recognizer with over 1000 crime suspects identified - an incredible personal achievement. There has been a wide variety of requests for super recognisers over the year. Somewhat unusually, Betty’s Tea Room from Harrogate contacted the ASR with a request to help identify their founder from a series of photographs. SRI swung into action with a response and Betty’s were very impressed and delighted at the service they received. Their founder was quickly identified. But on a more serious note, professional recognisers were involved in the very amateur Salisbury poisoning attack on former spy Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter. This was a bizarre attack in its own right – only eclipsed by the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi embassy in Turkey. Association members were involved in identifying a rather amateur Khashoggi ‘double’ and senior members of the Saudi regime present in the assassination squad sent to Turkey to eliminate the critic.
The Biometrics Institute invited me to join their Facial Recognition workshop, super recognition was the hottest topic. NIST – the National Institute of Standards and Technology – an organisation from the USA led the session. They are watching what the ASR is doing with great interest and they were very supportive during their lectures.
The summer brought a frenzy of activity with more development of the ASR as its logo was refined and its management structure agreed. An article about the ASR was published in the World Border Security magazine with an extensive global online readership. The Autumn saw the first ASR newsletter being sent out to all members. A second training course took place in September with a new group of ‘Licentiates’ being approved. Their admissions ceremony will take place in 2019. As we headed for winter, the number of Associates and Licentiates continued to grow and the winter newsletter was produced.
Looking ahead to 2019, the next training course will take place in March with a good response from ‘Associates’ who wish to transition to become ‘Licentiates.’
The next ‘Awards Ceremony’ is at the planning stage and its date will be released shortly.
There are discussions underway with a number of countries that wish to become part of what I like to describe as the ASR family, including Australia and Canada, there is also strong interest from Germany and Brazil.
The ASR organisation will continue grow its member numbers, although the target has already been exceeded for 2018 but new members are key to continued development.
I am sure you will agree, it has been quite a journey, from an idea to a functioning and vibrant organisation. The ASR is focused on investing all membership monies back into developing the Association and the science on behalf of its members.
Each and every one of you should be proud that you have been part of something new, unique and very special. Without you, the ASR would not have been created, this is a very special accolade to you all and you have each been involved and made this happen.
There is still a great deal to be done but the ASR is off to a flying start. The operating standard, SOPs and the Code of Conduct need to be published, overseas branches need to be formed and we are quite clear of the workload required to consolidate our position as we enter Year 2.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and New Year.
Chief Executive Officer
Tel 0800 773 4869