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Failure of Anthropometry as a Facial Identification Technique Using High-Quality Photographs*


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    Presented at the 17th Meeting of the International Association of Forensic Sciences, August 2005.

Additional information and reprint requests:
Professor Peter Vanezis, M.D.
Cameron Forensic Medical Sciences
Clinical Pharmacology
Barts and The London Charterhouse Square
London EC1M 6BQ


Abstract:  Anthropometry can be used in certain circumstances to facilitate comparison of a photograph of a suspect with that of the potential offender from surveillance footage. Experimental research was conducted to determine whether anthropometry has a place in forensic practice in confirming the identity of a suspect from a surveillance video. We examined an existing database of photographic lineups, where one video image was compared against 10 photographs, which has previously been used in psychological research. Target (1) and test (10) photos were of high quality, although taken with a different camera. The anthropometric landmarks of right and left ectocanthions, nasion, and stomion were chosen, and proportions and angle values between these landmarks were measured to compare target with test photos. Results indicate that these measurements failed to accurately identify targets. There was also no indication that any of the landmarks made a better comparison than another. It was concluded that, for these landmarks, this method does not generate the consistent results necessary for use as evidence in a court of law.