Expertise in forensic face matching: training, examiners, algorithms and super matchers

Research Institution / Organisation

The Open University

In Collaboration With

Metropolitan Police Service

Principal Researcher

Reuben Moreton

Level of Research


Project Start Date

October 2016

Research Context

Matching unfamiliar faces is a challenging task and can be error prone, however the difficulty of the task is not widely known. Matching faces provides vital intelligence and evidence in police investigations and the court room.

The aim of this project is to investigate ways of improving accuracy in forensic face matching and face matching more widely in policing, looking at four strands to provide enhanced face matching expertise:

  • Short professional training courses

  • Trained forensic examiners

  • People who are naturally proficient at matching faces (super matchers)

  • Automated facial recognition technology

The project comprises of empirical evaluations of each of the above using police and forensic practitioners.

Research Methodology

The project comprises of five studies:

  1. An international survey of training practices in applied face matching

  2. An evaluation of a professional two-day training course in applied face matching

  3. A comparison of perceptual face-matching skills between untrained superior face matchers and trained forensic examiners

  4. Combining face-matching decisions between humans and algorithms

  5. Evaluating the operational accuracy of individual forensic face matching examiners and examiner teams

Interim reports and publications

‚ÄčNot available

Date due for completion

August 2021
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