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  4. 0.01 Putting research evidence into practice using the mystery face procedure

0.01 Putting research evidence into practice using the mystery face procedure

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

Police officer on motorbike

A review of eyewitness identification research revealed that the results of research and the recommendations of researchers are not currently reflected in policing legislation or procedural guidelines. For example, the use of double-blind procedures by the world's police forces is very rare indeed, and not present in UK guidelines, despite its prominence in the recommendations of key learned societies (e.g. APA and BPS).

The project explored some of the reasons behind the disjuncture between research and practice by surveying UK police officer’s knowledge of, and attitudes, towards eyewitness research, and also their opinions of current practice in this area. The results showed that police officers, including those actively involved in eyewitness identification, have a very poor knowledge of relevant research and recommendations. The survey also showed that officers believe current procedures work well, although they also indicated that they wanted to learn more about current research of relevance to their profession.

Interestingly, officers’ estimates of rates of identification of an innocent suspect were comparable to those from research. Taken together with responses about the changes to identification procedures that officers would like to be implemented, these findings indicate that a key potential problem remains the difference between the underlying goals of researchers, who are concerned with preventing misidentifications, and the police, who are primarily concerned with increasing positive identifications.


Title Outputs type Lead academic Year
Executive summary Report Pike, G 2017
Final report Report Pike, G 2017
Presentation Presentation Pike, G 2017
Police perceptions of eyewitness evidence and research Conference paper Harrison, V 2015
Are children less reliable at making visual identifications than adults? A review Journal article Havard, C 2014



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