High-tech boost in search for missing Milton Keynes woman Leah Croucher as people see her move and smile at them

A high tech campaign to find Leah Croucher is set to bring new hope to her family.

By Sally Murrer
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 12:01 am

The charity Missing People has used artificial intelligence to produce an incredible 3D moving image of Leah on a giant poster.

The technology means her photo is brought to life, making her face move and smile and her eyes look directly at passers-by.

Leah’s mum Clare said: “Seeing Leah’s face move and smile on these amazing new posters is wonderful and gives us renewed hope that Leah – and other missing people like her – will be reunited their families.

The new 'moving' poster of Leah Croucher

"One of the many challenges as a parent of a missing person is trying to communicate who you’ve lost. We feel that if the public were to understand who our daughter is, they are more likely to remember seeing or meeting her.”

The posters will appear from today (Wednesday) on billboards across London and in major shopping centres including Westfield, Westfield Stratford and Canary Wharf.

Missing People, the UK’s leading missing persons charity, has launched the new design to mark Missing Children’s Day. Their aim is to maximise the likelihood of viewers engaging with the posters and taking action.

The charity combined seven key pieces of behavioural science with AI technology and machine learning to bring the new posters to life and become more eye catching to people walking past.

The 3D images and smiling face will improve memorability, while the word ‘missing’ has been replaced with action-oriented wording such as help find’ because research shows people are more likely to engage when presented with a clear call to action.

Each poster also has a unique QR code to encourage passers-by to tap into social media and spread the word.

There is even a background map of where Leah was last seen in MK as she walked to work on the morning of February 19 2015. She was 19 at the time and, despite and extensive police investigation, there is still not a single clue about what happened.

Two more young missing people are also featured in the campaign. They are Finn Layland-Stratfield, who was 17 when he disappeared from Cornwall in July 2017 and Alexander Soley, who disappeared at the age of 16 from London in August 2008.

Jo Youle, chief executive of Missing People, said: “70,000 children and young people are reported missing every year in the UK... Missing People is there for anyone affected, every day of the year.”

He added: “When it is appropriate to publicise someone’s disappearance, our appeals are a hugely important way to reach the public, to help find children. By embracing innovation, we hope the new appeals will have an even greater impact and lead to those featured being found safely.

“We are proud to bring the public, the media and business together to make a unique difference to people affected in communities across the UK.”

The photos were initially enhanced by Engine Creative in collaboration with Untold Studios using machine learning software, then animated using pioneering AI technology developed by D-ID.

The academic research was compiled by a team of behavioural scientists at INFLUENCE AT WORK.

The result is a simple online tool that Missing People can use to automatically create an enhanced poster when someone goes missing.