Identification procedures used by the police following an arrest

Identification Procedures

Identification procedures are used to enable the police to obtain additional evidence against a suspect. The victim or any witnesses will be asked to visually identify the suspect as the perpetrator of the crime in question. Code D of the Code of Practice for the Identification of Persons by Police Officers is used by the police when deciding on the most appropriate identification procedure. The procedures are designed to test the witness’ ability to identify the person they saw on a previous occasion, as well as provide safeguards against mistaken identification.

Video Identification

This identification procedure involves showing a witness moving images of a suspect, together with images of others who resemble the suspect.

The video must include the suspect as well as 8 other people who, so far as possible, resemble the suspect in age, height, general appearance and position in life; which includes showing the suspect and the other people in the same positions or carrying out the same sequence of movements.

The Suspect

The suspect or his/her solicitor is entitled to see the video before it is shown to the witness and if there are any reasonable objections, the police must take practicable steps to remove the grounds of objection, for example by replacing one of the other people shown in the video. If the suspect has any unusual features such as a birth mark or a tattoo, the police may either cover up the mark in the video or replicate the feature on all other people in the video.

A suspect will not be present when the victim or any witnesses are shown the video; however he/she must attend the police station at an earlier to date to record the video. The suspect’s solicitor must be given reasonable notice of this with regard to time and place.

If a suspect refuses to take part in a video identification, the police may proceed with a covert video identification of the suspect without his consent.


Before viewing the video identification, a witness must not communicate with any other witnesses about the case; he/she must not be able to see any of the images which are to be shown, nor must they be able to see or be reminded of any photograph or description of the suspect. A witness must not be put in a position where he/she is able to overhear any other witness who has already seen the video.

Only one witness may view the video at a time. The video may be paused or replayed any number of times.

Identification Parade or Police Line Up

A police identity parade occurs when a suspect is lined up with at least 8 other people that resemble him/her and the victim and/or any witnesses may then identify the suspect.

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For more information on:

  • The Suspect
  • Witnesses
  • Group Identification
  • Confrontation by a Witness
  • Which type of identification procedure should be used?