Tuesday, 27 Sep 2022

Madeleine McCann hunt offered police ‘super recognisers’ to find missing girl

A former top cop has offered to track down Madeleine McCann using a specialist team of facial “super recognisers” – but his requests have been ignored, Daily Star Online can reveal.

Ex-chief inspector Mick Neville, who founded the Met Police’s Central Forensic Image Team in 2012, now runs Super Recognisers International.

Its members are capable of remembering 80% of the faces they see, allowing them to pore through CCTV footage and pictures to identify criminals and missing people.

Neville believes Maddie – who disappeared in Portugal's Praia da Luz resort in 2007 – could be identified by utilising Facebook’s facial recognition technology and passing images on to his recruits.

He told Daily Star Online: “In my view, if you’re alive today it’s very difficult not to have your image somewhere.

“You’d probably have a passport or you might be captured on social media.”

Facebook identifies peoples’ features in newly uploaded photos and can recognise individuals even when they’re not tagged.

He added: “We could ask Facebook to do a facial recognition search against every missing girl.

“Even if you don’t want to be caught on Facebook you might get caught in somebody else’s selfie.”

The forensics expert has offered his service to the Find Madeleine campaign twice, detailing what his super recognisers are capable of 18 months ago.

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However, he has received no response.

Speaking of how the super recognisers are trained, Neville added: “We identify which particular super recogniser skill they have.

“Some of them are good at short-term, checking passports. Some are good at long-term memory and some are good at spotting people in crowds – others are good at all three.

“We teach them how to use their skills effectively and how to spot suspicious behaviour and utilise it in real-life scenarios.”

During the London riots in 2011, more than 200,000 hours of CCTV footage were ­analysed by facial recognition software and only one criminal was identified.

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The same footage was passed over to the Met’s super recogniser unit and Neville’s team spotted 609 criminals.

One officer alone, PC Gary Collins, identified 180.

Daily Star Online has approached the Official Find Madeleine website and the family’s spokesman for comment.

Last April, another forensics expert launched a request with the Met Police to release DNA samples related to Maddie’s 2007 disappearance .

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Portuguese cops initially sent the material – which could implicate an intruder – to be examined by the UK’s Forensic Science Service (FSS) in Birmingham.

However, the evidence was “too complex” for the team and did not result in “meaningful inclusion/interpretation”.

Dr Mark Perlin claims his Pittsburgh lab Cybernetics – which has identified victims of the 9/11 terror attack – can unlock samples UK authorities initially struggled to analyse.

However, his offer was also ignored.

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