Facial mapping

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In this feature l rogue traders lmultiple identities l a new weapon Forensic imagery has redrawn the battle lines in the fight against rogue traders, in what is thought to be a first for trading standards. TS Today editor Carina Bailey reports Facing the facts I ts a tool that most people associate with high-profile criminal police investigations. However, South West Scambusters has proved that facial mapping is a cost-effective weapon that can and should be used by trading standards in the war against rogue traders. Over a period of four years, scores of organisations fell victim to a rogue white-line painter, who claimed he was from the local council and had paint left over after carrying out highways work. The unsuspecting victims mainly charities, schools and religious establishments agreed to have white lines painted in their car parks, and paid hundreds of pounds for a substandard job that failed to last. When witnesses who reported the practice to South West Scambusters kept giving the same description but different names for the perpetrator, senior investigator John Jacobs and his team knew Leslie Smith and Paul Lee were oneand the same person. But how to prove it in court? We had a number of complaints [over a number of years] about a rogue trader, but different victims gave different names for the person theyd been speaking to, explained Jacobs. We finally tracked down his vehicle with the help of the police. They arrested the person inside, who had another identity. By this point, Jacobs and his team were dealing with three identities: Leslie Smith, Paul Lee and Ian Taylor. The arrested man was in possession of a temporary registration card, with a photograph, under the name of Paul Lee, and a registration card under the name Ian Taylor. He also had a photo driving licence in the name of Leslie Smith, and passports in the names of Leslie Smith and Paul Lee. However, his date of birth, and the photographs he used, were different on these IDs. Jacobs realised they needed a way to prove scientifically that they were only after one rogue trader. They were pointed in the direction of the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), which was able to provide a list of vetted facial-mapping experts. The use of forensic imagery by trading standards is rare it may be the first time its been used in the UK, says Jacobs. Its certainly the first time it was used by South West Scambusters. The person in the photographs looked identical to me but, evidentially, I cant stand up in court and say: They look the same to me, your honour. S MITHS MODUS OPER ANDI Leslie Smith also posing as Ian Taylor and Paul Lee operated nationally between 2008 and 2012. He would travel around an area and cold call churches and other religious establishments, community groups, health centres and schools, claiming to work for the council, placing highway-safety markings on the road. He would tell his unsuspecting and trusting victims that he had some paint left over, and would ask if they wanted the white lines in their car park marked. However, he wasnt working for the council, and didnt have any leftover paint. The material hed already purchased wasnt suitable, and he was overcharging for the end result, says Jacobs. The paint for line marking has to be of a particular chemical mix to withstand the use to which its put. This paint would breakdown too easily. It wouldnt last because it was not the right mix of ingredients. Theyve just got no heart, these people, added Jacobs. They dont care theyre just in it for the money. All we can do is our best to catch them and put them away. Some of the victims didnt want to cooperate with the investigation because they were too embarrassed. He is a pretty despicable character. What really struck us was the people he was targeting schools, health centres, community centres, religious establishments they all fell victim. But because a lot of them are charities, a lot didnt come forward. They said: We cant have the publicity we are a charity. Theyd spent thousands. Smith pleaded guilty in April at Bristol Crown Court to one charge of fraudulent trading, contrary to Section 9 of the Fraud Act 2006, covering offending between 2008 and 2012. The South West Scambusters team fully evidenced 32 victims who suffered a combined loss of 50,000, and the team believe that the actual number of victims could be more than 100 figures that Smith is disputing. Smith is due to appear in court again on 19 November, when the technical value of his criminal benefit will be discussed. Facial mapping experts can tell everything about a person from their features to the way a person moves [using CCTV] or the way they stand in a photograph Credits Published Images: luxorphoto / Warren Goldswain / 28 October, 2014 MAPPING THE S IMIL ARITIES Facial mapping works by using programmes such as Photoshop not to enhance or change the image, but to crop the illustration. The only changes that can be made to an image is an adjustment to the brightness and contrast. No filters can be used, as this would change the data captured in a photograph. In this case, David Anley founder of Anley Consulting compared each ID photograph with the template custody image of Leslie Smith, analysing the similarities and their singularities. The slope of the forehead, for example, may be consistent, but could not be described as singular, explains Anley. The way the structure The person is the of the ear works, however,in extremely singular. It photographs counts a lot more than a sloping forehead. Other features that are examined during the looked facial-mapping process identical to me, but include the hairline, eyebrows, eyes, nose, upper lip, lower lip, chin and evidentially, I cant jawline. stand up in court and Forensic comparisons can also be made from say: They look the and even used to tell if a clothing and vehicles, same to carrying a weapon such as a knife suspect is me, your honour during a filmed fracas, for example. Most of the time, says Anley, this kind of work applies to CCTV images, but it can also be used on still photographs such as in this case, which was codenamed Operation Superb. A layman typically looks at a guy who appears in CCTV, and then at the bloke in the dock, and says I think its him, says Anley. Its a judgement. What facial mapping does is take an analytical approach to this. In order to say this is one person committing all of these offences, we have to be able to say that the person in that photograph is the same as the person in that photograph, and so on. To do this, Jacobs team used the custody photograph taken of their suspect as a template. They then took this template photograph to facial-mapping expert David Anley, to ask him to check it against the other photographs in their possession of Paul Lee, Leslie Smith and Ian Taylor and to get his opinion on whether this was one and the sameman? Anley paid particular attention to any distinguishing marks, and features such as ears, eyebrows, eyes, lips, chin andhairline. The photographs were taken over a long period of time, up to the present day, and first showing a man who was, perhaps, in his 20s. As the suspect was in possession of two birth certificates, it was difficult to be certain of his real age one certificate indicated that the suspect had been born in 1972, while the other claimed he was born in 1975. However, Jacobs believes the mans real age was about 42. Anley reported that his analysis lends powerful support to the suggestion that the man in all of the photographs is one and the same person. I would absolutely recommend other trading standards services to use a facialmapping expert if they have a similar incident where they have photographs of somebody they know is a suspect, and photographs of someone they believe is a suspect, enthuses Jacobs. Itsvery good and very clever the way it is done. They can tell everything about a person from their features to the way a person moves [using CCTV], or the way they stand in a photograph. According to Jacobs, this facial-mapping service cost less than 1,000 not a prohibitive cost, but made easier to bear thanks to funding from the National Trading Standards Board. The NPIA, which Jacobs and his team used to find an expert, closed in October 2013. According to its former website, its functions have transferred to the College of Policing, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, and the Home Office, which may be the first port of call for other local authorities wanting a vetted expert they can trust. To share this page, click on in the toolbar Ollyy / Shutterstock