SOUTH AUSTRALIA POLICE Forensic Services Branch
The South Australia Police Forensic Response Section is staffed by (sworn) Police Officers. The Officers work in a ‘multi-disciplined’ crime investigation group, attending Serious Crime Scenes, and perform a range of roles such as; tool mark, shoe mark and other physical comparisons, fire investigation, blood stain interpretation, bomb scene examination and Face. Currently there are three members within the Forensic Response Section who create FACE images from descriptions of offenders provided by victims/witness. The images produced are primarily for incidents.
Q1: What was the challenge facing your organization that led you to acquire the APRIL® Face Aging software?
A: A function of the South Australia Police (SAPOL) Forensic Response Section is the creation of face images using the Facial Automated Composition Editing (FACE) System. The program provides a data base of photographic components of a person’s face – where the victim/witness makes a selection of the components resulting with an image of a face.
The components are blended together to create a likeness/image of the offender. This image assists the investigators to consider suspects or it can be utilised in the media for assistance from the public. A limitation of this software is the inability to age the face, or add weight, sun, or smokers’ damage to the appearance. Officers are often asked to make the appearance of the face older or add weight. Officers currently using this system do not have the artistic ability or requisite knowledge in the effect of age and environment on the appearance of facial features, and their skills were limited to what was provided by the FACE software. As South Australia does not have a high incidence of missing children the use of the April software in the Forensic Response Section is currently only used to age the FACE from an image created .
Q2. What was the solution provided by the APRIL® software? (Describe in what settings; how used; how often; used by whom?)
A: From the image created at the direction of the victim/witness it is common for them to say that the image “ is like the person but needs to be a little older”(a frequent request is to age the face about 10 - 15 years). The constructed image is saved and place into the ‘April’ age program with what the victim/witness thinks the age of the current image looks like, then using the sliding scale the image is adjusted for age, weight etc. until the victim/witness finds the age/appearance/likeness is closest to their perception of the offender.
Q3. What are the results from using the APRIL® software?
A: The ‘April’ Face Ageing Software has been in use in SAPOL since 2009. We currently produce about 100 created face images per year with about 1 in 5 of the images having to be aged. All victims/witness have been satisfied with the results and giving a higher percentage of likeness to the offender after the image was aged.
April age has been a valuable tool to the Forensic Response Section. The Section does not have ‘Forensic Artists’ with portrait drawing skills, or training in the effect that age and environment can have on facial appearances. Presently we do not provide a ‘FACE’ service for missing persons and therefore we do not have to consider variables or unknown factors such as weight, sun damage or ageing. The current use of April is for the victim/witness observations, of contemporary offences, to provide a likeness of the suspect/offender at the time of the incident.