Eyewitness identification around the world

Ryan J. Fitzgerald*, Eva Rubínová, Stefana Juncu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This chapter reports a review of eyewitness identification guidelines from around the world. Guidelines from 54 countries were coded and interpreted in relation to best-practice recommendations. An influential scientific review paper, known as the Lineup White Paper (Wells et al., 1998), recommends using a blind lineup administrator, obtaining a post-identification confidence assessment from the witness, selecting lineup fillers who match the eyewitness description of the culprit, and instructing witnesses that the culprit may or may not be in the lineup. Although these reforms have been incorporated into national guidelines in the U.S., the Lineup White Paper recommendations were rarely included in the guidelines from around the world: blind administrator = 9%, record confidence = 13%, match fillers to description = 17%, and instruct that culprit may be absent = 20%. It was similarly rare to find guidance on whether to present the lineup members simultaneously (0%) or sequentially (9%). Most of the guidelines specified a minimum number of lineup members, though this variable was subject to substantial international variation. Guidelines from civil law countries typically recommended a minimum of three or four lineup members, whereas guidelines in common law countries typically recommended a minimum of eight or more lineup members. For the medium of lineup presentation, 46% of the guidelines indicated a preference for live lineups over photo or video lineups. Additional recommendations included having only one suspect per lineup (26%), conducting separate identification procedures for crimes with multiple witnesses (55%), and permitting the suspect to have legal representation at the identification procedure (32%). Although the low prevalence of best-practice recommendations in the guidelines was discouraging, the mere existence of guidelines from over 50 countries shows that policy makers recognize the need to regulate eyewitness identification procedures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods, Measures, and Theories in Eyewitness Identification Tasks
EditorsAndrew M. Smith, Michael P. Toglia, James Michael Lampinen
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages294-322
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781000334159
ISBN (Print)9781138612532
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2021

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