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Develop preferred practice guidelines for police lineups. Use relevant theories, principles and research evidence in cognitive psychology to highlight which practices should be both included and avoided in police lineups to successfully identify perpetrators.

Psychological concerns regarding the accuracy of eyewitness identification

Police line-up identification process presents a critical moment when an eyewitness inspects a lineup and identifies a criminal. For the past two decades, psychological scientists have given recommendable time in the study of eyewitness identification and have come up with several concerns regarding the accuracy of the whole process of eyewitness identification subjected to different conditions.  In scientific psychology study, the scientific research of eyewitness has been the most successful topic so far.  False identification of a criminal can lead to the prosecution of the wrong person in the long run (Roach, 2015).

Evidence Act 1929 in South Australia has an amendment bill proposing that identity evidence is allowed in court when its obtained than through the live line-up procedures. A strict approach to the process is necessary because there has been significant mistaken identification. The problem arising from convicting culprits from the lineup identification is that the eyewitness memory may suffer from time to time, or the memory is corrupted through various images on the eyewitness mind at that particular time. Then, the eyewitness ends up been wrong most of the time (Wixted,et al 2017).

According to the Uniform Evidence Act, the common law requires to have a provision for admissibility of the identification evidence. Section 114(a) states the general rule that no proof of visual identification can be used the court if no parade was held before. This extensive evidence rule has two exceptions where the defendant is not willing to be part of such an exercise or when it was deemed unnecessary to hold such a task. The process of line-up parade serves a vital role in a defendant’s fair trial because the evidence is identifiable and failure can lead to a breach of the defendant’s testimony (Wixted,et al 2016).

According to legal theory, different safe ways are assumed to be in place within the whole justice system to prevent failures of justice which may occur in the form of the mistaken identification procedure. These safe ways also do not provide enough information in to be used for protection. The safe ways include the presence of the counsel of jury at the live line-ups. Several factors are put in consideration before the identification process is considered fail, which includes; proper examination of the eyewitness, any opportunity that can suppress the identification process, and all the expert details of the factors that can affect the memory of the eyewitness at any given time (Wetmore, et al 2015).

Legal requirements for admissibility of identification evidence

The process of formulating guidelines for police line-up identification is not new in the justice system, over a decade now a significant number of legal practitioners have requested the police to get proper documentation on the process of line up identification of perpetrators (Wells, et al 1998).

Preferred practice guidelines in police line- up.

Proper lineup documentation includes a nice crafted checklist which includes:

There is no line-up which needs to proceed when there are no legal advisory services considered.

No line procedure should proceed without a representative from the jury.

All the people represented for the identification line should share a similar age bracket, physical characteristics, and racial group (Wells, et al 1998).

All the movement or any facial expressions should be uniform for all the people in the line-up.

Any communication between the law enforcement officers and the people in the line-up should be limited not unless it is unavoidable.

No facial expression, gestures, or talking to the witness to suggest a particular place where the witness is standing (Wells, et al 1998).

If more than one witness is viewing the line-up, the parties should not be able to see each to other discuss anything about the identification process unless the exercise is over.

Witnesses should not in any particular chance be allowed to see the suspect in handcuffs or custody or in any other form that indicates the identity of the suspect (Wells, et al 1998).

It is only one witness should be allowed for identification at one particular time.

All witness should not be allowed to see any photographs taken during the line-up exercise.

Eyewitnesses should be allowed ample time before identification with no pressure or stressful situations so that it does not affect their thinking.

All the suspects have the freedom to choose where to stand in the line-up with no discrimination (Wells, et al 1998).

In case one of the suspects wants to speak or adopt a different standing posture they should seek permission from the officer in charge of the parade

By any chance If the eyewitness cannot be able to identify any suspect should be able to say so in good time.

The eyewitness may be in apposition to identify a person who was maybe near a crime scene; they should indicate the number above them appropriately (Wells, et al 1998).

A photo board preparation.

Any party requesting a photo board should be able to follow the right procedures, fill and submit the ACT on photo board request including the suspect’s full name, date of birth, the offence committed, and an indication that the suspect has been offered a free will to participate in the line-up identification. This form should also contain details of the co-offenders if any and the desired number of witnesses that will be allowed to access the photo board. During the investigation and inspection of the photo board, an independent party should be selected to perform the exercise. After the research, the proper marking of the photo board is necessary, and procedural analysis of the evidence put in place (National Research Council. 2015).

Safe ways to prevent failures of justice through mistaken identification

All identification rules and regulations should be followed to the later to promote the credibility of the exercise. The process of suspect identification should have proper security measures including the safeguarding materials and any voice print identification. All the identification materials should be recorded and separated those of the adults and the children in case different age groups are involved in the procedure (Neil, 2011).  There is a proper recording of identification materials to show that the process was lawful and be referred back during the court session of the particular case. After the procedure, adequate disposal channels has to be put in place that includes the proper destruction of the identification materials to make sure they do not know land in the wrong hands and cause information privacy breach (Lindsay, et al 2014).

The related judgement processes.

The above line –up identification recommendation is based on the psychological theory of human memory and the social influence on it, scientific findings, and the logic of identification and testing (Laura, et al 2012).The most important approach in psychology is the memory theory, and this depends heavily on relative judgement theory.  The related judgement methods guide us to have the patience of directing eyewitnesses in a particular way. Research shows that there is a high possibility that the eyewitness will most likely identify the individual from the line-up that is likely resembles the culprit (Wells, et al 2014).  This whole process of identification may seem obvious, but in most cases, it turns out false when the culprit is not in the identification line-up.

Relative judgement contrasts with absolute sense whereby in the complete review the witnesses view the culprits and tries comparing with their memory and uses that criteria in identifying the culprit. The study shows that relative judgement and process of culprit identification gives the best idea in identifying the perpetrators. In cases where the eyewitnesses are used to making a relative decision then, they should be warned when there is the removal without replacement which states that the culprit is not in the line-up (Memon, 2017).

The relative similarity theory argues that the process and the decision of identifying a perpetrator from a line-up are dependent on relative judgement, there is a possibility that there is a resemblance of the culprits would significantly affect the identification process and the confidence levels of the eyewitness.

On the contrary, there is a psychological, legal suggestion that identification using photographs as reliable as the line-up identification process.

Proper documentation and regulations for police lineups and photo board preparation

There is another way of line-up identification which is known as the police evidence, in police evidence appointees with no relationship with the witness and may be able to identify the suspects are involved and use direct observation as a way of determining the suspects. After the process, the appointee must make a comprehensive report that they were able to locate the suspect and be treated as a witness by all the parties (Fitzgerald, et al 2015). In extreme cases, the identification procedure would require expert identification evidence which will include sampling of the fingerprints, handwriting, facial recognition and maybe voice print identification techniques. These expert identification techniques are a way of enhancing the procedure of line-up identification to achieve the best results in the whole case.

The problems associated with police line-up identification.

There is a very crucial issue surrounding the police identification process such that the police officers can signal the eyewitness to where the suspect is located or standing. Individuals who are not the suspects may not be in resemblance with the description of the eyewitness. Another problem is that the eyewitness may be scared or feel more pressure in identifying the suspect in the line-up (Beaudry, et al 2015).

The rights and freedoms of the suspects in the line-up.

All the suspects in a police line-up have a right to an attorney which may interfere with the critical stage of suspect identification. If a suspect had a lawyer and they are absent during the identification procedure, then the lawyer can interfere with the process for the better of his or her client.  A lawyer is critical in the identification procedure to prevent any bias activity from happening during the whole exercise. A suspect has a right to enjoy the freedom from a suggestion. This means that the suspects are free from an identification process that is unnecessarily suggestive, a law enforcement officer should not force a witness to identify a particular person in the line-up (Gronlund, et al 2014).

All the suspects can enjoy the freedom of suppression which is requested by the lawyer of the suspect and given an opportunity to discuss the occurrences of the identification process.

The line-up procedure is a daily routine for the police suspect identification procedure, but the process of using a DNA evidence has on several occasions outweighed the latter down. The use of DNA is the most accurate way of suspect identification because it presents results with over 98 per cent accuracy (Fielding, 2017).

Related judgment processes for identification of perpetrators


Police line-up identification is a simple suspect identification process which is the evidence in the process of identifying culprits; although it has its downfalls like the cases of wrong identification of the suspect, there is still so much that can be done to make the exercise a better one (Charman, et al 2014). Proper policies and document rules and regulations governing the whole line-up exercise should be in place for effective identification procedure.


Beaudry, J. L., Lindsay, R. C., Leach, A. M., Mansour, J. K., Bertrand, M. I., & Kalmet, N. (2015). The effect of evidence type, identification accuracy, line?up presentation, and line?up administration on observers' perceptions of eyewitnesses. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 20(2), 343-364.

Charman, S., & Wells, G. L. (2014). Applied lineup theory. Handbook Of Eyewitness Psychology 2 Volume Set, 219.

Fielding, N. (2017). The police and social conflict. Routledge-Cavendish.

Fitzgerald, R. J., & Price, H. L. (2015). Eyewitness identification across the life span: A meta-analysis of age differences. Psychological Bulletin, 141(6), 1228.

Gronlund, S. D., Wixted, J. T., & Mickes, L. (2014). Evaluating eyewitness identification procedures using receiver operating characteristic analysis. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(1), 3-10.

Laura Smalarz and Gary L Wells, ‘Eyewitness-Identification Evidence: Scientific Advances and the New Burden on Trial Judges’ (2012) 48 Court Review 14-48.

Lindsay, R. C. L., & Dysart, J. E. (2014). Show-up identifications: Suggestive technique or reliable method?. In Handbook Of Eyewitness Psychology 2 Volume Set (pp. 151-168). Routledge.

Memon, A. (2017). Eyewitness research: Theory and practice. In Psychology and Law (pp. 65-78). Routledge.

National Research Council. (2015). Identifying the culprit: Assessing eyewitness identification. National Academies Press.

Neil Brewer, Pictures Perfect: Why Photo Lineups Can Be Better At Catching Crooks (26 May 2011) The Conversation; Winmar v WA (2007) 35 WAR 159.

Roach, K. (2015). The wrongful conviction of Indigenous people in Australia and Canada. Flinders LJ, 17, 203.

Wells, G. L., Small, M., Penrod, S., Malpass, R. S., Fulero, S. M., & Brimacombe, C. A. E. (1998). Eyewitness identification procedures: Recommendations for lineups and photospreads. Law and Human behavior, 22(6), 603.

Wells, G. L., Yang, Y., & Smalarz, L. (2015). Eyewitness identification: Bayesian information gain, base-rate effect equivalency curves, and reasonable suspicion. Law and Human Behavior, 39.

Wetmore, S. A., Neuschatz, J. S., Gronlund, S. D., Wooten, A., Goodsell, C. A., & Carlson, C. A. (2015). Effect of retention interval on showup and lineup performance. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 4(1), 8-14. (2), 99.

Wixted, J. T., Mickes, L., Dunn, J. C., Clark, S. E., & Wells, W. (2016). Estimating the reliability of eyewitness identifications from police lineups. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(2), 304-309.

Wixted, J. T., & Wells, G. L. (2017). The relationship between eyewitness confidence and identification accuracy: A new synthesis. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 18(1), 10-65.

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