In e-fits of laughter: Farcical faces from the police


After an e-fit of a man wanted in Cheshire became a story in its own right, BBC News has collated its own rogues' gallery of computer-generated images that have caused mirth and merriment for the general public.

So comical was the e-fit issued by police of the man seen wielding a knife in Macclesfield that the image - with the suspect depicted with drawn-on hair and beard - inspired people to produce their own parodies.

Image copyright Cheshire Police/Ian Harrison
Image caption The e-fit issued by Cheshire Police (left) inspired mock-ups like that of Ian Harrison, who posted his picture on Facebook

Amused members of the public took to Twitter to say they presumed the e-fit must have been a joke.

And although it most decidedly was not, the image of the suspect was presumably more widely circulated than any other issued by the force. So who's laughing now?

Where did you get that hat?

Victims are asked to describe not just what the suspect looked like, but what he or she was wearing. In some cases, where a suspect was clothed in clobber not stored in the police's image bank, it would appear creativity plays a hand.

Men wearing crudely-drawn hats and a woman who seems to have travelled forward in time from the 1920s are some of the gems issued by Gloucestershire Police.

Image caption 'This is an e-fit composite. It is not a photograph' is printed - somewhat unnecessarily - along the bottom of these images
Image caption The virtual millinery department of Gloucestershire Police went into overdrive with this pair

A poor judge of caricature?

One crime victim in Norfolk criticised a police e-fit (below right), saying although a thief had an unusual appearance he "didn't look that odd".

Image caption 'He was odd-looking, but not that odd' said a theft victim, who described the man on the right to Norfolk police

Publican Kim Rule, joint licensee of The Grebe in Stalham, where two safes had been stolen, said: "The man in the picture has half an ear - he didn't have half an ear. And his moustache wasn't like that.

"I don't think I've ever seen anyone who looks like that in Stalham. Or anywhere else in my life."

Having a bad hair day?

Image caption Anyone would be distracted by a burglar with a lettuce on his head

Detectives in Essex released an e-fit of a man resembling a "1970s-style rocker" sporting long golden curls.

"It is thought to be his own hair," a spokesperson said. Which just makes it even odder.

Police in Hampshire issued an unusual e-fit in connection with a distraction burglary. The man's hair, described as "blond or grey, and wavy", looked more like a lettuce bonnet.

The force admitted having "technical issues".

Image caption The woman on the left looks a tad unnatural, although possibly less so than the gentleman on the right

I'm sure I've seen you before...

Image copyright AP
Image caption 'Avada Kedavra', as the man on the right did not say

Some e-fits bear an uncanny similarity to familiar faces - a thin-nostrilled suspect, portrayed by Leicestershire Police, had more than a passing resemblance to Ralph Fiennes' Voldemort from the Harry Potter films.

Heartthrob Aiden Turner, who made scything sexy in the BBC's revamp of Poldark, could reasonably be confused with the e-fit issued by Essex Police...

Image caption Separated at birth - on the left is Poldark and on the right is a Southsea assault suspect. Or should that be the other way round?

...and Beliebers everywhere could be forgiven for plastering their bedroom walls with this e-fit.

Image caption Gloucestershire Police were responsible for the baby-faced robotic Justin Bieber-alike on the right


Kent Police were mocked for issuing an e-fit likened to cartoon character Fred Flintstone. The extra sideburn and apparent resemblance to the Stone Age quarry worker attracted howls of derision rather than witness statements.

Image caption The man on the left was likened by members of the public to Fred Flintstone, while others queried the value of a ninja-style image

Suffolk Police hunted a knife-wielding ninja robber after an incident in Little Wratting. The force said the victim "gave a detailed description of the man's eyes and hood". Officers put the picture on their Facebook page and people commenting were not shy in airing their derision. One person wrote: "A man with eyes... Not too many of them around."

Others said police were hunting "Darth Vader", "You'll never catch a ninja" and a number of people suggested it was "a waste" of the artist's time.

But Dr Samantha Lundrigan, senior lecturer in criminology at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, defended the "ninja" e-fit, saying if accurately portrayed, facial features may well be recognisable to people who knew him.

And of course there is the possibility there are some odd-looking criminals on the streets of England and the e-fits simply do them justice.

Don't have nightmares.

More on this story