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Fitting tribute paid to police’s retiring e-fit artist

PC Tony Barnes will retire in March having drawn some of London's most notorious criminals

25 January, 2021 — By Bronwen Weatherby

E-fit of PC Tony Barnes

A FITTING tribute was paid to a long-standing officer of the Met Police this week.

PC Tony Barnes, the force’s e-fit designer, is due to retire at the end of March after 15 years service.

And his artistic talents, credited with helping detectives solve some of its most serious crimes, were celebrated with his very own e-fit picture.

Having transferred to the Met from Essex police in 2006, from 2013 he became the force’s only e-fit operator since 2013.

PC Barnes said: “I like to tell people one of two things about me. Either that I’m the most published artist in the Evening Standard or that I’m the only police officer in London who’s paid to draw pictures all day long. Both are true I think, although Banksy gets his fair share of column space.”

He added: “I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t laughed at some of the e-fits I have seen over the years. I bet you have as well.

“The truth is that every e-fit that you see in the press or on TV is not the vision of the police officer or police staff member. It is what the witness has described to those officers. Sure the artistic skills of some of the composite artists may be lacking at times, but that image only appears for public consumption if the witness says there is a likeness to the suspect.

“I have pride in all the images that I have helped create over the years, even if some very old images look unrealistic by today’s standards. Of course not all e-fit images lead to an arrest but lots have, including the conviction of Derry McCann who committed a rape in Victoria Park on the same day that he later got married. He was sentenced to life in prison.”

Four new officers have been trained to take up the e-fit mantle after Officer Barnes leaves for “the countryside in a floppy hat and smock to paint until the sun goes down.”

“There are always criminals who lurk in the shadows and manage to evade any cameras. That’s where we come in and why I think there will always be a place for what we do,” he added. 

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