Yesterday, there was a two page spread in the Mail about a good friend of mine called Jan Szymczuk. Known as Boris to his mates, he was (and still is I guess) the UK's foremost forensic illustrator. He's recently retired but he spent nigh on 30 years doing those pencil drawings of bad guys you see on TV - sometimes by hand but also by computer using 'e-fit' software (what we used to call photofit). With recent developments in the Maddie McCann case centred on just such a picture (not by Boris), he was asked to demonstrate how well the system works by doing three drawings of a suspect based on interviewing three witnesses. The feature - typically negatively headlined by the Mail as 'Call that a likeness? It's criminal!' (yawn) - was not too bad, all things considered. What it demonstrated, despite the reporter's every attempt to find fault, was that Boris is very good at his job and that all the police can do is create an image based upon witness testimony. And it's amazing how poor that can be at times. The heat of the moment, the adrenaline rush, can skew perceptions. As an example, here's a picture that Boris created of me a few years ago (when I wore specs), based solely upon the description of a witness - a lady in his office who'd met me very briefly
As you can see, it's not a photographic representation of me. But it would probably be enough to jog someone's memory if they saw the picture on Crimewatch the night before. I suspect I'd have had a knock on the door a few days later.
If you want to read the feature, it's online here. I actually went and bought the paper so I could keep the clipping. The whole event made me feel a bit dirty. But, luckily, I was able to sneak through the tills by concealing it inside some gay porn.
Boris's website is here. He's really very good.