CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Catching Criminals by Watching the Way They Walk

From For more than ten years, scientists have been working on a computer system that can analyse the movements of criminals caught on CCTV and compare them with those of a suspect. The system works on the premise that every individual has a signature walking style.

The technique is still in its infancy but has been employed in high-profile cases. Swedish police successfully used it three years ago to identify a robber involved in a bank raid in which a customer was killed. Officers investigating the murder of Anna Lindh, the Swedish Foreign Minister, in 2003 asked experts to examine the walk of their suspect, Mijailo Mijailovic. Their efforts were not needed — Mijailovic confessed — but the case highlighted the technique’s potential.

Mark Nixon, of the Southampton University department of electronics and computing, said that studies showed everyone has a distinct walk. This was because of subtle differences in muscle strength, tendon and bone length, bone density, visual acuity, co-ordination skills, experience, body mass, centre of gravity, muscle or bone damage, physiological conditions, and a personal walking “style”. He said that it was very difficult for someone to disguise the way they walked, and they could still be identified whether casually sauntering up to the bankteller or sprinting from the scene of the crime.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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