Should We Be Concerned About Street Identifications?

Roberts, Andrew; Davis, Josh; Valentine, Tim and Memon, Amina. 2014. Should We Be Concerned About Street Identifications? Criminal Law Review(9), pp. 633-654. ISSN 0011-135X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The use of street identification procedures – informal procedures in which witnesses attempt to identify an offender, usually soon after the commission of a crime and close to where it occurred – has attracted significant concern. These procedures are generally thought to give rise to a greater risk of mistaken identification because they lack the safeguards of formal procedures conducted under controlled conditions. This article describes the findings of empirical research undertaken by the authors. The research had three broad objectives. The first was to collect data which would provide some indication of the extent to which street identifications are used by police in England and Wales. The second was to compare the reliability of street identifications and video identification procedures involving the use of foils. The final objective was to investigate the influence that a street identification procedure would have on a subsequent video identification procedure involving the same witness and suspect. The findings suggest that substantial numbers of street identifications are conducted but, perhaps counter-intuitively, in terms of the risk of mistaken identification of innocent suspects, such procedures may be no less reliable than video identification procedures. Following identification of a suspect in a street identification, there is a very high likelihood that a formal procedure involving the same suspect and witness will result in the suspect being identified again, notwithstanding that the suspect is innocent.

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Additional Information:

Funded by: Nuffield Foundation (Grant no. AJU33483).

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September 2014Published

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Date Deposited:

11 Nov 2014 11:30

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:03

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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