A report in The Times newspaper reports a team of “super recognisers” with an outstanding memory for faces will help Munich Police to safeguard Oktoberfest, which started a few days ago.
The 6,600-strong city force has around 37 officers with the ability of spotting faces after seeking advice from Dr Josh Davis, from Greenwich University who is an Honorary Fellow of the Association of Super Recognisers. Dr Davis helped the Metropolitan Police Service to establish a similar squad in 2015.
Super recognisers played a significant role in the Skripal poisoning investigation and have been found to be better than face recognition software if CCTV image quality is poor.
The Munich officers involved took part in an online test last December in which they were briefly shown a face and then had to pick it out from a series of other faces from another angle.
A total of 650 officers made it through the initial stage, before they were whittled down to 24 men and 13 women.
These officers will be posted at the entrances to the festival and in a CCTV control room and then will be tested using photographs of colleagues who then join them in the crowd. “If we end up identifying real criminals so much the better,” a spokesman said.
The annual two-week Oktoberfest attracts about 6 million people each year.
In 198013 people were killed and 211 injured when a neo-Nazi detonated a bomb at the main entrance.
Dr Davis started working with the British police in 2011. He said research suggested that face recognition skills could not be taught and less than half a percent of the population had super recognizer abilities.