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Identification Procedures

Justice written question – answered on 20th July 2011.

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Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Conservative, Wirral West

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the extent to which (a) victims and (b) witnesses of crime participating in a video identification parade are able to pre-identify suspects through social media.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I have been asked to reply.

While no specific assessment of the extent of such pre-identification has been conducted, video identification procedures, like all other identification procedures, are conducted by the police in accordance with the requirements of Code of Practice D issued in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). In addition, the police service has a dedicated group specialising in video identification, which works with the CPS and others, including the Home Office, to identify any issues which might require changes to Code of Practice D.

We are satisfied that the provisions of Code of Practice D balance properly the need for the police to secure admissible identification evidence with the need for safeguards for suspects. In particular, paragraph 3.29 requires that

“Each eye-witness involved in the procedure (whether they are a witness or victim) shall be asked, after they have taken part, whether they have seen any film, photograph or image relating to the offence or any description of the suspect which has been broadcast or published in any national or local media or on any social networking site and, if they have, they should be asked to give details of the circumstances, such as the date and place as relevant. Their replies shall be recorded.”

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is then responsible for considering the evidential implications of any such prior identification when deciding whether the suspect should be charged and for disclosing relevant information to the defence in the event of subsequent proceedings.

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