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Forensic psychology
Forensic psychology

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3.3 What were the problems with the ID parades?

Figure 10

Using the knowledge you have gained about psychology, face recognition and eyewitness identification, do you think the ID parades conducted by DI Bullet were an effective means of obtaining accurate evidence?

Psychological research would suggest that there are some serious problems with the methods used by DI Bullet to conduct his identification parades. Look back over the previous two sections and see if you can work out what these are. Below are some hints for things to look for:

  • Instructions – did the instructions used involve a leading question, and did they suggest to the witness that the perpetrator was definitely in the parade?

  • Procedure – what procedure was used? Was it a sequential or simultaneous presentation, and how might this have impacted the witness’s decision?

  • Structure – was the parade a fair one, or might the suspect have stood out for some reason?

  • Verbal overshadowing – ID parades are supposed to involve the witness comparing their memory of the perpetrator to the faces in the parade. Was that the case here, or might they have been relying on information (such as a verbal description, facial composite or information from the detective) from after the crime took place?

  • Unconscious transference – if the witness has seen the suspect somewhere other than when committing the crime, it is possible that they are transferring that memory into their memory of who committed the crime. Is it possible that this is happening here?

These are the issues that you’ve focused on in this course, but they are certainly not an exhaustive list. Do feel free to note down any other problems you think there might have been.

Activity 1 Problems with ID parades

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Once you have worked out what you think the problems might be note them down.

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