Winterthur police hire a super-recogniser to help them solve crimes

Winterthur police hire a super-recogniser to help them solve crimes

Police in the Swiss city of Winterthur have become the first police department in the country to hire a so-called “super-recogniser”. The specialist is an expert in identifying people from images and spotting faces that they recognise. 

Winterthur police force hired someone from within its own ranks

While the person has not been publicly identified, it is understood that the employee taking up the super-recogniser role came from within the ranks of the police force. They are helping the force to spot potential suspects and criminals without the use of controversial facial-recognition software. 

Such software has been the topic of a number of hot debates in Swiss society over the past few years, because facial recognition systems require the collection and storage of large quantities of personal data as well as images of people going about their daily lives. Even though lots of people are used to this sort of surveillance through CCTV and other video surveillance equipment, many people oppose the use of these technologies for automatic facial recognition for law enforcement purposes. 

Scientists do not yet understand why some people are “super-recognisers”

Scientists across the world are not yet sure how some people are able to memorise and recall a large number of faces and defining features of people, but so-called super-recognisers are capable of recognising thousands of faces just from a single glance. It is estimated that just 1 or 2 percent of the global population are super-recognisers.

In 2021, a number of civil society groups in Switzerland called for facial recognition techniques used by law enforcement to be banned as they called the practice a breach of civil liberties. Police in other Swiss cities could soon follow suit and hire their own super-recognisers.

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

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