Forensic Psychology, Psychology

Police photo lineups: how background colours can skew eye witness identification

Our Catriona Havard has a piece published in The Conversation today on police photo lineups:

Identification parades can be powerful evidence in securing convictions in criminal cases. But eyewitness evidence is notoriously prone to errors – and organisations such as the Innocent Project have found out that 70% of wrongful convictions that were later exonerated had verdicts based on faulty eyewitness evidence which resulted in mistaken identity.

Now our new research shows that small variations in the background colour of photo lineups can increase errors in identification of innocent suspects. We also added to the mounting evidence that shows people are worse at correctly identifying individuals who are of a different race to them.

Traditionally in the UK, lineups were conducted “live”, using the suspect and then several volunteers that were found on the day that resembled the suspect. But live lineups were often cancelled due to logistical problems. In a bid to reduce cancellations and make lineups fairer for suspects by finding more suitable volunteer stand-ins, for the past few decades lineups in a number of countries in Europe, the UK and the US have used photo lineups or video parades. Read more…

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