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Forensic psychology
Forensic psychology

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4.4 What were the problems with the line-ups?

Figure 15

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

Unlike the methods used by DI Bullet to conduct his identification parades, psychological research would suggest that DS Sund used a procedure far less likely to lead to a misidentification and far more likely to have obtained reliable evidence. Nonetheless, no procedure is perfect, so think carefully about the procedures used by DS Sund and see if you can identify any problems.

Below are the same list of hints of 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?

Activity 2 Problems with line-ups

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Now, see if you can work out how DS Sund tried to avoid these problems. Note down your ideas.

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