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University of Stirling crime fighting aid wins UK award

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A revolutionary facial composite system created by a Stirling Professor has won global acclaim after winning a prestigious award at a UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) event in London.

EvoFIT, which helps victims and witnesses of crime generate an image of a criminal’s face, unanimously won the University Excellence Competition category at TechWorld after competing against 15 other shortlisted universities from around the UK.

The idea for the system was generated by Peter Hancock, Professor of Psychology at Stirling, who worked in partnership with Dr Charlie Frowd at the University of Central Lancashire, who developed the software.

EvoFIT requires witnesses and victims to repeatedly select from screens of complete faces to evolve a composite of the criminal’s face. The system is being used in criminal investigations around the world.

Professor Hancock said: “This is excellent recognition for the work that Charlie Frowd has put into taking the system to market.

“The reason the system works so well is that we both have backgrounds in computing and psychology and we have applied that knowledge to make it possible for a witness to construct a face accurately.”

Dr Frowd said: “Police forces around the world are starting to use our system to help solve crimes and it’s a great achievement that something conceived in the UK is having such a dramatic affect globally. This is fantastic recognition and really extends the reach of the EvoFIT system to a much wider audience.

“There are no police forces in Scotland using it yet but we would welcome any who would like to do a field trial.”

Over 400 industry leaders from over 50 countries, including the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Dr Vince Cable, attended TechWorld last week.

Research and development of EvoFIT has spanned over 12 years, evolving as computer software updates occurred.

Latest laboratory research indicates that the correct naming rate of an EvoFIT composite is 45 per cent, following the construction of a two day old memory of a face. This compares to 5 per cent for the widely-used traditional E-FIT system, where people select features such as eyes, nose and mouth type.

EvoFIT is used by 11 police forces around the UK including Lancashire, Manchester, Derbyshire and Cumbria, as well as forces in Romania, Israel and the USA.

The current arrest rate for forces that use EvoFIT is approximately 50 per cent, following construction of a criminal face image.


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