An evaluation of the fairness of police line-ups and video identifications
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-0720(199911)1...
Abstract or Description
Mistaken eyewitness identification is a major source of miscarriages of justice. In England and Wales, procedures for obtaining identification evidence are set out in legislation. The vast majority of identifications are obtained using a traditional ‘live’ identity parade (or line-up). However, in some circumstances video identifications are being used more frequently. Records of line-ups and video identifications used in actual criminal cases were obtained. The fairness of these two procedures was compared by use of a mock witness procedure. In a perfectly fair line-up the suspect would be chosen, by chance, by 11% of the mock witnesses. However, 25% of mock witnesses selected the suspect from 25 photographs of live line-ups, compared to 15% of mock witnesses who selected the suspect from video identifications. An analysis of covariance, taking the number of visual features mentioned in the original witness's first description as the covariate, showed that the proportion choosing the suspect was significantly smaller from video identifications. It is concluded that the video line-ups were fairer than the live line-ups, and therefore that wider use of video identifications has the potential to improve the reliability of eyewitness identification evidence.