It may bear a creepy resemblance to the film Minority Report, where people are arrested for crimes before they have committed them.
But scientists believe they may be able to pick out a potential criminal just by looking at their face.
Computer software created in China is able to identify someone who has committed a crime with up to 89.5 per cent accuracy, after scrolling through almost 1,900 facial images.
You wouldn’t want to mix these two ladies up – one a society beauty and 1870s stage actress, the other a murderous nightclub hostess hanged in July 1955 for killing her lover
One of these women was a 1930s Hollywood star married to Clark Gable, while the other was a sadistic SS Auschwitz-Birkenau guard, choosing who to send to the death chambers
It found criminals have upper lips which curve around 23 percent more and their eyes are closer together.
This type of science is controversial, linked to discredited Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso who argued that criminals were more primitive than the rest of us, with differently shaped skulls and asymmetrical facial bones.
There is no real evidence of why criminals might look any different, but the academics at Shanghai Jiao Tong University say their computer programme can be trusted.
Their study states: ‘Unlike a human examiner/judge, a computer vision algorithm or classifier has absolutely no subjective baggages, having no emotions, no biases whatsoever due to past experience, race, religion, political doctrine, gender, age, etc, no mental fatigue, no preconditioning of a bad sleep or meal.’