An eagle-eyed officer is living up to his title as the ‘memory man’ after spotting more than 850 crime suspects in the last four years.
PCSO Andy Pope has a remarkable ability to recognise faces of some of the region’s most wanted people – picking out some years after they were first sought.
The West Midlands Police officer – who patrols the region’s transport hubs as part of the Safer Travel Partnership – has built up a reputation for remembering faces from CCTV footage, stills and police briefings.
His successes include spotting a robber from an image seen a year before, managing to pick out a wanted man in a restaurant while waiting at traffic lights on the other side of the road, and identifying someone from a mole on their face!
His identification skills have led to the arrest and conviction of suspects wanted for offences including theft and sexual assault.
So in a test of his unique talent – which has seen just over 850 suspects identified on the streets and public transport in Birmingham – West Midlands Police recently set one of his toughest challenges to date.
He was given just a matter of minutes to study the images of five volunteers he’d not seen before, then try and pick out three who were milling around one of the busiest areas of Birmingham City Centre.
To make the challenge even harder it was carried out in the High Street during a sunny, peak lunchtime period and one of the volunteer targets had altered his appearance from the image and gone clean-shaven.
To see Andy in action and how he did in the challenge view this video here:
Andy said: “It is hard to explain exactly how I remember so many faces.
“I spend time before I start a shift looking at some of the latest wanted faces and they just seem to stick in my mind.
“I feel a great sense of pride and satisfaction if I manage to remember a suspect from an image who is then arrested. Hopefully there will be many more to come in future.”
Andy – who is part of the Safer Travel Partnership which has seen West Midlands Police work alongside British Transport Police and transport operators to cut crime on buses, trains and trams by 70 per cent in eight years – added: “This was a tough challenge I was set; right in the middle of Birmingham at the busiest time.
“It has helped to keep my mind sharp ahead of hunting the real criminals.”