Identification Procedures used by the Police

When can identification procedures be used? 

The circumstances in which identification procedures must be held are set out in Code D Para 3.12 of PACE 1984. These include where a witness who is available expresses the ability to identify the suspect and the suspect disputes being the person the witness claims to have seen.

Types of identification procedure

There are four types of identification procedure available:

  1. Video identification;

  2. Identification parade;

  3. Group identification and

  4. Confrontation

The suspect should first be offered video identification (Code D Para 3.14) unless a video identification is not practicable or an identification parade is both practicable and more suitable than video identification. It is advisable for a suspect to agree to such identification methods otherwise their refusal may lead to adverse inferences being drawn in court and the police can use less favourable methods of identification such as confrontation.

Video Identification 

Video identification involves the witness being shown moving images of the suspect together with moving images of eight other people who resemble the suspect. The resemblance should be in terms of age, general appearance and position in life. If the suspect has an unusual physical feature such as a scar or tattoo which does not appear on the other people used in the images, steps should be taken to either conceal the location of the feature on the image of the suspect or replicate the feature on the other people.

Identification parade

An identification parade is where the witness sees the suspect in a line of other people who resemble the suspect. The investigating officer in the case is not entitled to be present at the identification parade. The identification parade itself should consist of at least 8 people who resemble the suspect in age, height, general appearance and position in life. Where the suspect has an unusual physical feature which cannot be replicated on other members of the parade, steps can be taken to conceal the location of the feature on the suspect and the other members if the suspect and his solicitor agree.

When the suspect is brought to the place where the identification parade is held they are asked if they have any objections to the arrangements or the participants in the parade. The suspect is also able to choose their own position in the line. Before the witnesses attend the identification parade arrangements should be made so that they are unable to: 

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For more information on:

  • Group identification
  • Confrontation 
  • Excluding identification evidence