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  4. 1.02 Visual identification – what works

1.02 Visual identification – what works

Academic team: Prof Graham Pike, Dr Hayley Ness, Dr Catriona Harvard and Dr Virginia Harrison
Policing partners: Greater Manchester Police, Merseyside Police
Status: Complete

Police officers visiting citizen

The project used three surveys:

  • A questionnaire completed by policing staff
  • A questionnaire completed by witnesses/the general public
  • A tool to record additional information about identification procedures

The results of the research showed a worrying disjuncture between the relevant practice guidelines and the behaviour of witnesses in a criminal investigation. This included that many witnesses either did not understand the instructions given to them at an identification procedure and/or chose to interpret them in ways not intended by the police. For example, witnesses reported that they expected the perpetrator to be present in the parade and that they should select someone.

Overall, there appeared to be a pattern of witness selection, including self-selection, and behaviour that meant that the witnesses tending to take part in identification procedures displayed many of the characteristics that research has shown are likely to lead to misidentifications.


Title Outputs type Lead academic Year
Identification evidence Book chapter Pike, G 2018
​Perceptual impacts on eyewitness identification Conference paper Pike, G 2016
Face recognition in forensic settings Conference paper Pike, G 2018
Face recognition in forensic settings Symposium Pike, G 2016
Public and police perceptions of psychology and the law Symposium Pike, G 2015
Identity, citizenship and engaging with the criminal justice system Conference paper Briggs, G 2015
How to improve identification evidence: practitioner hits and academic false alarms Website Pike, G 2015
Facing criminal justice: face perception research and the criminal justice system Symposium Pike, F 2015



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CPRL has launched a new format of research seminars under the brand ‘CPRL Collaborative’ that are open to academics and our police force members. 

23rd November 2023
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