Police have been ridiculed for publishing outdated wanted pictures including a teenager who is now 51 but they claim the suspects’ features “won’t have changed”.
Cops in Zhenxiong County, in south-western China’s Yunnan Province, apologised for the gaffe but said they had no more recent pictures of some of the criminals, including Ji Qinghai, who appears as a primary schoolboy in the photo.
The caption under the photograph of the youngster reads: “Ji Qinghai, male, ethnicity Han, is wanted by the police for involvement in a public nuisance case.”
The notice included Ji’s ID number which local media reported was searchable online and revealed he is actually now 17 years old.
The picture appeared in a list of 100 suspects, posted online by police, wanted for crimes ranging from gambling to murder.
Many of the photos were out of date. One, looking like a teenager, was supposed to show 51-year-old suspect Yang Jianxue, wanted in a battery case, and another was supposed to show a 28-year-old named Xu, wanted for false imprisonment, but the picture shows a boy.
Zhenxiong County police admitted on social media they had used childhood pictures of some of the fugitives as they did not have any recent photos of them.
One cop, named only as Liu, said of the image of Ji: “His features won’t have changed. Look at his features clearly, his nose, eyes, ears, mouth and eyebrows. These won’t have changed. We welcome any tips.”
But following public criticism, police later apologised and removed the photographs.
A spokesman said: “The use of old children’s photos has drawn the attention of netizens and created a negative influence. We sincerely apologise for the carelessness in our work.”
The pictures sparked a lively debate on the popular Weibo social media network where most users were critical of the cops.
Netizen ‘waidolce2’ commented: “The police could spend a few dollars and get a more up-to date look by ageing the photos….”
And ‘Steven Ceng’ added: “Where are the police sketch artists? Help them draw a portrait.”