Forensic facial comparison in South Africa: State of the science

M. Steyn (Lead / Corresponding author), M. Pretorius, N. Briers, N. Bacci, A. Johnson, T. M. R. Houlton

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Forensic facial comparison (FFC) is a scientific technique used to link suspects to a crime scene based on the analysis of photos or video recordings from that scene. While basic guidelines on practice and training are provided by the Facial Identification Scientific Working Group, details of how these are applied across the world are scarce. FFC is frequently used in South Africa, with more than 700 comparisons conducted in the last two years alone. In this paper the standards of practice are outlined, with new proposed levels of agreement/conclusions. We outline three levels of training that were established, with training in facial anatomy, terminology, principles of image comparison, image science, facial recognition and computer skills being aimed at developing general competency. Training in generating court charts and understanding court case proceedings are being specifically developed for the South African context. Various shortcomings still exist, specifically with regard to knowledge of the reliability of the technique. These need to be addressed in future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-194
Number of pages5
JournalForensic Science International
Early online date12 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • CCTV
  • Image analysis
  • Photo comparison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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