The Mumbai police did make a brief but unsuccessful attempt to improve the quality of sketches by using a computer software. However, the results were less than encouraging, prompting the police to revert to sketching artists.
Explaining how the software worked RS Agarwal, senior inspector, Shivaji Nagar police station said, "The software only had limited variations of facial characteristics, which did not help. For example, there would be a total of only around 10 to15 types of noses or moustaches. So, the witnesses were asked to pick on the variation of a nose that bore the closest resemblance to the nose of the accused."
An inspector talking on condition of anonymity said, "On many occasions the nose, moustache or eyes of the accused did not match the variations allowed by the software. We realised the futility of the exercise."
Another crime branch officer said, "After the manual sketch is prepared, we ask the witness to give us a percentage match with that of the accused. On most occasions, witnesses tell us that the sketch resembled the person about 65% to 70%. There are times, when we are lucky and the victim said that there was a 90% to 95% match."
In cases where an accused is arrested based on a sketch, the sketch artist, most of whom are students of institutes such as JJ School of Arts, may be called by the court once the trial begins.