On August 14th, a man attempted to assault a dog walker in the U.K. village of Maidenhead. According to the dog walker, she was strolling along a footpath when a man began to follow her. Although she tried to move away, he eventually caught up to her and tried to lift her sweater. Thankfully, before he could go any further, the dog walker screamed — and the man scampered off into the night.
Naturally, something like this is very serious. That’s why the good people of the Thames Valley Police have put out a composite image of the man in question to help people identify him and bring him to justice.
APPEAL— TVP Maidenhead (@TVP_Maidenhead) October 2, 2023
We are releasing an e-fit depicting a man in connection with a sexual assault in Maidenhead.
If you recognise the man pictured or have any info that could help our investigation, make a report online or call 101, quoting 43230363229.
More https://t.co/ErHkZI0bye pic.twitter.com/OUYBupJmGm
Oh. Oh, God.
Let’s break this down. The man we’re looking for has eyes the size of an anime character and the general build of a Nintendo Mii. He also has gone for the bold fashion look of wearing a statement tan hat with a black hoodie. Given the size of the bags under his eyes, I would guess that he hasn’t slept in 10, maybe 12 weeks.
Police can see you using your phone in your car in 4k clarity but this is the they produce when it comes to actual criminals https://t.co/NY0LI86oDt— hassan (@_spacecoupe) October 2, 2023
So how did this happen? According to the police department, this is what is called an “E-FIT,” or “Electronic Facial Identification Technique.” Police stations describe the process as incredibly complicated and in-depth, using state-of-the-art technology to create a composite of what a subject might actually look like.
But what the technology actually is, is just a cut-and-paste arts and crafts project. You answer a bunch of questions for an officer. Then, a computer puts together a bunch of images of face parts in a vague approximation of your description. After that, you look at the results and say which one looks most like the suspect. Repeat this a few more times, and boom, you’ve got someone who looks like an NPC on a scratched PS2 disc.
Pretty sure I bumped into this guy on Runescape in 2001— Robbie Scowls (@RScowler) October 2, 2023
Maybe this is just a bad example. After all, police sketch artists are famously bad at depicting suspects — maybe this is better! To figure that out, Conor Gogarty of Gloucestershire Live described his long-time colleague to an officer wielding an E-FIT program. The resulting image only gave a vague likeness of his friend. Gogarty generously rated the image a 7.5 out of 10 — at which point he was told by an officer that even a 6 would often be seen as a success.
All that said, if you see a man looking like this walking around Maidenhead, you know who to call — a psychiatrist.