A more recent version of these Identification Evidence notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.
The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Criminal Procedure and Evidence Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:
IDENTIFICATION EVIDENCE Why is identification evidence concerning?
It is not as reliable as most think. Example: The Trial of Adolf Beck
- Adolf Beck arrested for conning women, who claimed they had been conned by a man with grey hair. The women identified him in an identity parade, so he was convicted. The 'Lord Willoughby' who had been conning the women had been arrested for the crimes already, but ran away. This meant that Beck was prosecuted for both the fraud and running away.
- He was also identified in court, the women pointing at him while he sat in the dock.
- Eventually realised that Adolf Beck wasn't guilty - the medical notes for John Smith showed that he was circumcised while Beck was not. Beck was only then exonerated for the old offences, not the new ones.
- Eventually John Smith is caught and Beck is pardoned.
? Huge amount of distrust for ID evidence from this case. 30 people swore in court that it was him and they were all wrong.
PACE Code D - Identification Evidence Procedure
? Detailed records should be kept of witness' initial identification - D.3.1
? Circumstances of the identification should be kept in mind. o Alexander and McGill: Robbery, sister of the victim went through facebook photographs with him and they found people tagged that they felt were the robbers. Police also did this but did not record how many photographs he looked at or what poses they were in.
? The Court concluded that you have to be very careful in circumstances like this as to how many photographs are viewed etc because things like aggressive posing can influence the defendant's purported identification.
? Images viewed and statement in relation to what happened is necessary.
When the suspect is not known and available D.3.4: "known and available"
- 'known' = sufficient information to justify arrest of a particular person for suspected involvement in the offence
"available" = immediately available or will be within a reasonably short time to take part in identification procedures which are practicable to arrange.
Steps that can be taken when the witness is not known and available:
? D.3.2: can take witness around neighbourhood in hope of seeing the offender again
? Annex E on showing photographs: can show photographs, E-Fits etc. Potential bad character issue: If a witness is shown a book of mugshots and identifies the defendant, will evidence of that identification be admissible at trial?
? Jury would question why the police had the photo.
? Lamb and Green show that you cannot admit mugshots used to identify suspects. Video ID parade recording is therefore now used. o However two qualifications to this (1) where D refuses ID parade (Lamb) and (2) where there is no prejudice (Allen).
When the subject is known and available D.3.4 defines 'known and available' (Above) (1) When to hold an identification procedure (D.3.12 - D.3.13) 3 situations where ID procedure required - Where the suspect disputes the allegations and: i. Witness purports to have identified the suspect as the offender (D.3.12(i)) ii. Witness believes (or there is a reasonable prospect) that she could identify the offender if given the opportunity (D.3.12(ii)) iii. Officer in charge thinks it would be 'useful' (D.3.13) No need to hold an ID procedure where it would be impracticable or serve no useful purpose. Where a suspect insists that an identification procedure be held:
? Forbes: Man subjected to attempted robbery and police drove him around looking for the perpetrator, during which he picked out F. F asked for an identification procedure but the police saw no reason to do one. o HL in this case said that the Code means exactly what it says - if there is a dispute you must hold an ID procedure.
? Forbes occurred under old Code, wording has now changed, but Stark thinks that if D asks for a procedure then there will be one.
? Abbott: No need for procedure where the witness was only able to identify a distinct piece of clothing. Pointless to have one. When applying s.78 PACE, lack of ID procedure is just a factor to consider, does not render ID inadmissible automatically.
- Argued it would be better to come down more heavily in cases of breach given the unreliability of this kind of evidence.
- There are still cases where ID procedure not necessary, and these should be incorporated into the Code: o Where they would be pointless - e.g. where the witness can identify clothing but not the suspect himself o Cases of pure recognition of someone the witness knows personally. (2) The type of identification procedure to be used VIPER (Video Identification Parade Electronic Recording) is preferred (D.3.14)
? Brown: can take place well after the event.
? Procedure in Annex A. o At least 8 'foils' (so 8 people + suspect) (A2) o Must look through twice before making identification (A11) Other procedures in descending order of desirability: i. "live" ID parade (Annex B) ii. Group identifications (Annex C) iii. Confrontation (Annex D) Note that voice identification procedures are not set out in Code D. Refusal to participate:
- Refusing to take part renders someone known and unavailable = covert identification using photo of suspect and other 8 foils
- Code D.3.21 (3) Other Matters Where the witness' identification is "qualified"?
? George: Crimewatch presenter murdered in 1999. Between the offence and ID procedure he grew a full beard and then refused to take part in the parade when it happened, so covert VIPER used. They had to use foils with beards. This meant that witnesses had to consider what each person in the VIPER looked like without a beard. o Led to witness saying they were 95% sure - a qualified identification. o CA: it is fine to allow witness to explain why they only made a qualified identification, so long as that evidence is not the only basis of conviction. Are dock identifications allowed?
? Very restricted.
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