Helping people to recognise composites using a facial-composite intervention

Perception, Cognition and Neuroscience (PCN) Research Group

The research aims to help the police and members of the public to recognise facial-composite images using a simple facial-composite exercise.

Facial composite images are created in criminal investigations by witnesses and victims of crime to allow police to identity those responsible. Considerable research has developed ways to interface with human memory, to produce the most effective facial image. The current project investigates a novel method to help people recognise these images, following on from previous research (e.g., Brown et al., 2019; Frowd et al., 2007, 2012, 2014). Here, a simple training exercise is being used to familiarise people with composites. 

Primary goals and objectives 

  • Facilitating recognition of facial-composite images
  • Development of optimal procedures for helping to solving crime
  • Enhancement techniques for best forensic practice


Results to date show that, if there is good familiarity with the identities used in the training exercise, the ability to correctly name further composites (of different identities) is greatly improved. The research should improve correct identification rates of offenders in criminal investigations.