See some of the best - and worst - efits issued by police in Suffolk and Essex
PUBLISHED: 18:05 04 August 2015 | UPDATED: 09:17 05 August 2015
The value of e-fits was defended last night as new figures reveal only one image released to the public in the past three years has resulted in an arrest.
Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said the technique was a “legitimate” and “important” means of dealing with crimes in the county, as we looked through the best and worst examples.
Electronic Facial Identification Technique, or e-fit, is a computer-based method of piecing together a picture of a suspect in a criminal investigation, based on eyewitness descriptions, and is used when no photograph is available.
Between January 2013 and July 2015, 87 e-fits were put together by Suffolk police. Of these, 31 were released into the public domain through the media, and the others were only circulated internally within the constabulary.
In total, 29 names were put forward by members of the public or police officers, and 10 arrests were made as a result of these identifications.
However, only one of these arrests came from the public circulation.
This was in relation to an assault that was committed in Ipswich last year, in which a victim was hit with a metal pole and suffered swelling and bruising to their leg, arm, face and head.
The e-fit was released on March 3, 2014, and the offender was found over a year later on April 4, 2014 – they were subsequently charged.
Mr Passmore said on occasions, the constabulary would be involved in “serious” undercover operations and therefore it would not always be appropriate to release these images into the public. He said this would be a decision made by the chief constable.
“I do not have any concerns about this, it’s an important tool and I am very supportive of it,” he added.
Detective Inspector Darrell Skuse, of Suffolk Constabulary, who oversees identification in investigations, said an e-fit was used when officers had no idea who the offender could be.
“E-fit is one aspect of what we would be doing at the time,” he added. “We have to be careful though and sure it will benefit the investigation.
“If the image is too obscure we could be flooded with names and information which isn’t helpful.”
In April last year, Suffolk Constabulary came under scrutiny for releasing an e-fit of a man wearing a hood with his mouth covered during an investigation into a knife-related crime. The image was likened on social media to a ninja.