Due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19 it has become common for people to wear face masks covering their nose and mouth, and in some places, such as on public transport, such masks are now compulsory.
Having a large portion of the face covered in such a manner can be an impediment to identifying a person. Now with the warmer weather and sunshine a person may further be wearing sunglasses, making it almost impossible to see any of the features of their face.
While in the past, walking down the street or entering a shop wearing any sort of face covering such as a mask would appear suspicious, now, for someone to have their face largely obscured from view with a mask does not raise an eyebrow.
This poses a problem if a person decided to take advantage of the situation for nefarious purposes. It would be difficult to identify a shoplifter and almost impossible to hold an identity parade if someone had the majority of their face covered as it would be much harder for a witness to identify a person with any certainty.
Another hurdle to an identity parade is that, rather than using actual people, the Police use digital images from a database of 9,000 to compare to the suspect, which are then turned into a 15 second video clip for the witness to view. However, these images will not show the suspect or the comparisons with their face covered by a mask.
If the criminals also were to wear latex gloves, another common sight, they may not leave any fingerprints at a crime scene, a further impediment to identifying the culprit. Finally, once they leave the scene of the crime they may become just one in a sea of many mask wearing individuals.
A criminal in Connecticut wore a face masks and latex gloves to conduct a series of armed robberies at petrol stations, trusting that the mask would conceal their identity and prevent their capture. It was noticed that a red headed woman would appear in the store before him, casing then joint, and then send a text. The pair were caught after a cop recognised the woman whilst attending an unrelated disturbance call. Their woman’s parents then positively identified the pair in the surveillance footage, and handed over messages from her requesting the masks and gloves.
Also in the US, an inmate used a mask to conceal his facial tattoos and successfully posed as another inmate who was being released and who did not have facial tattoos. He was recaptured a week later.
While we have yet to hear of any similar crimes in the UK or Jersey, these are far from being isolated cases in the US with many Police Forces reporting similar crimes. Studies have found that, when wearing a mask, people are more likely to undertake behaviour that they would not without the mask. This could lead to people committing their first crimes with the aid of a mask and the anonymity they afford.
All of this poses a problem for the Police as they have much less information to use to identify the perpetrators of a crime. In addition, whereas previously the presence of surgical masks and latex gloves at a suspect’s home would raise suspicions, now it is the new normal.
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What We Collect
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Variations To The Policy
We reserve the right to alter and change information provided in this document at our own discretion and therefore this document should be regularly referred to for updates and variations. If you have any questions regarding this policy, our contact details are as follows: