Special Recognition Officer to James Whale: Bellingcat ‘did a great job’ identifying Salisbury Novichok suspect

Special Recognition Officer to James Whale: Bellingcat ‘did a great job’ identifying Salisbury Novichok suspect

Friday, September 28, 2018

Mike Neville, Managing Director of the Super Recogniser Unit, has said that Bellingcat, the organisation responsible for revealing the supposed identity of one of the Salisbury suspects, did “a great job”.

Mr Neville, whose unit uses images, CCTV and footage to catch criminals told talkRADIO’s James Whale: “I think they have done a very good job.  They are helping the police.  

“They have done a great job.

“All this nonsense we heard about them being two gay guys visiting the cathedral has now been put to bed.

“It is about using people with the right detective abilities and the people who can find these pictures.

“Then it is about having the right people to say yes, it is that person because… and they can name the features that match.”


The ‘real identity’

The two Salisbury suspects give an interview to RT after being indentified by UK investigations

This comes as an online investigations group published what it says is the real identity of one of the prime suspects in the Salisbury nerve agent attack on Thursday.

Bellingcat has reported that the man who was named as Ruslan Boshirov is actually Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, who they say is a highly decorated officer in the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service.

The Home Office said it could neither confirm nor deny the reporting about the suspect’s real identity.

Scotland Yard, which has already said it believed the two suspects were using aliases, declined to comment.


‘Thousands of hours’

Mr Neville added: “What they would do is go through thousands of hours and we call it ‘face-snapping’ where you have to find the same face twice.

“What they have been looking for is where they have spotted the same face at Gatwick as at Salisbury in some footage.

“Once they have got that lead, then they can share that face with other super recognisers and then they can trawl other footage and try to find the movements of those individuals.”


‘Only in a perfect scenario’

CCTV capture of the two Salisbury suspects 

Explaining why it would have taken so long to identify the suspects, Mr Neville said facial recognition technology “only works in a perfect scenario”.

He said: “I imagine they had no idea who did it, they had to ask ‘where had these men come from?’, probably Russia but there are several airports they could have landed at.

“They have got the footage from Salisbury. In Salisbury town centre you have got thousands of hours of footage, you have got thousands of hours of footage from airports and train stations.

“It is simply a case of going through it and spotting them.

“People ask what about facial recognition machines but they only work in a perfect scenario.

“They are getting better all the time but in general the facial recognition works when you are in the airport.

“You are front on, standing there in perfect light at the perfect angle.”