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Making you, the witness our primary concern.

The Benefits of using Video for Identification Purposes.

"Witnesses are more relaxed and feel less vulnerable because they are not walking up and down near the suspect. If they are elderly or housebound, it is possible to show them the video in their homes. If the victim is hospitalised, the video can be taken to them."

Quoted from Inspector Barrie Thompson, ID Bureaux project manager West Midland Police


Are you a victim of crime? Are you a witness to a crime?

If the answer to any of the above is yes then it is likely that you will be asked to attend a video identification parade to help with any on-going enquiry regarding the crime. video identification has become the preferred choice for identifying suspects, the other 2 options are a still image parade (if the suspect has very distinguishing marks on the face such as a tattoo or a scar) or a live line-up parade(all but phased out now).

95% of all identification parades done in the UK now are video procedures as this is seen as the least distressing to you the witness or victim (In an old live line-up parade you would have had to come very close to the suspect, in the same room sometimes, which can cause distress or intimidation). Now with video identification parades these issues have been resolved and you never come anywhere near the suspect giving you a more relaxed atmosphere.

A PROMAT video identification parade consists of a short 3 minute film that you will sit down and watch several times in the hope that you will be able to identify the suspect if indeed the suspect as you remember is present on the parade.

This 3 minute video is made up from a number of volunteers who look similar to the suspect (usually 8 but in some circumstances could be more) and the suspect who is believed to have committed the offence. Each clip will play for approximately 15 seconds; each person on the parade will appear in front of a green background and will start by looking directly at the camera, then turn their head from left to right, finishing by facing the camera again.

In special circumstances certain distinguishing marks such as a tattoo or scar can be pixilated, blurred or have a mosaic applied on all the videos . If the distinguishing mark is extreme such as a full facial tattoo then motion video might be changed for just a still image that will appear on screen for the same length of time as a video would.

The main aim of the PROMAT video identification parade is to make it fair for both you and the suspect. Promat has been tried and tested as a solid solution since 1997 (so you can be assured that it will run smoothly and without incident) and is in keeping with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

If you have been contacted and asked to come in for an identification parade then you should expect the following to happen when you arrive for your viewing

  • The identification unit will contact you to arrange a suitable date and time for you to come in and view the parade.
  • When you arrive at reception and ask for the Video ID Unit, a member of the team will come for you and take you to a secure area to view the identification parade.
  • The officer in charge will then explain exactly what will happen before you view the parade.
  • Once this is done you will be shown into the viewing room and the video will be prepared for you. Please note that there are additional cameras in the viewing room that are set up to record your viewing of the parade; please do not be alarmed by this as this is common practice for the defence solicitor to prove that the procedure was conducted fairly and in accordance with the guidelines.
  • Whoever is conducting the parade will then begin by formally telling you about the video identification parade (you can request a translator if you require one).
  • You will be asked to confirm your identity to the viewing officer in charge; this is for the benefit of the video recording of you watching the parade.
  • You will be shown the parade twice; if after this you cannot make a positive identification then you may request to watch all or just a part of it again.
  • When you are ready, the video clips will be shown to you. You will see each of the people who have been video recorded one at a time. Each person in each of the video clips has a number beside them. The people in each video clip will normally look straight into the video camera then turn to each side. You will see a front view and a side view of each person's face.
  • If you want, the video clips can be stopped so you can have a really good look at any of the people. When you are sure that you are finished and don't want to look at any of the people on the clips again you should tell the police officer. You can also ask the viewing officer to replay any single clip that you like to make extra sure.
  • You will be formally asked to state if you can make a positive identification after this. Take as much time as you need but it is very important that you don't guess. Do not worry if you cannot as it may be that the suspect is not the perpetrator of the crime and you are helping enquiries by pointing that information out to the officer in charge.
  • Once you have finished the viewing you will be asked a few more short questions for administrative purposes.

An average viewing should take no longer than 30 minutes to complete.

Q. When could I be considered as being 'a witness'?

A: In most cases, you will be considered 'a witness' and may have to give evidence in court if you know something about a particular crime, incident or dispute. For example, you may have seen it happen or you may be the victim of the crime. In some cases, however, you might be asked to go to court as a 'character witness' if you know one of the people involved in the case. You will be asked to answer questions about, for example, how well you know the person and whether he or she is trustworthy. Those with specialist knowledge of a subject may also be asked to give evidence, such as medical practitioners. They are known as 'expert witnesses'.

Q. Might I have to attend an identity parade?

A: If the police have a suspect for an offence and the identity of that person is in dispute, they may wish to carry out an identity parade. In this case, you will be asked to pick out the person who you think committed the alleged offence. In order to carry out the parade, the police would use a video identification parade - commonly known as a 'PROMAT video identification parade'.
This means that the identification parade is prepared in the form of a digital disc and will be shown to you by the police officer on a laptop or computer or a DVD and television set. The advantage of this electronic process is that you can view the parade in places other than the police station, such as at home, should you prefer.

Q. What if I do not recognise the person I saw committing the crime?

A: When you have finished viewing the entire parade twice you will be asked to make a positive identification of who you saw committing the crime. If you do not recognise the person then you should tell the viewing officer in charge.

Q. How do I tell the viewing officer which one I have picked out as the committer of the crime?

A: As each video clip plays a number will be shown in the top left hand corner. Each number corresponds to the video clip being shown. When and if you recognise the suspect you have simply to say the number that was displayed in the top left hand corner at the time you saw the clip. You can tell the officer straight away or wait until the entire parade has been viewed.

Q. Do I have to go to the police station to view the parade?

A: If you are elderly or unwell then the parade viewing can be brought to you. The PROMAT system is fully portable and can be viewed on a laptop computer / tablet PC or IPAD device.

Q. Will I have to see the suspect?

A: With the advent of Video Identification you no longer have to face the suspect, instead you will be taken to a safe location where you will be shown a 3 minute video sequence which will display the suspect and a number of other volunteers.

Q. Can I bring anyone with me to the viewing for support?

A: You can indeed bring people with you for support but unfortunately they will not be allowed into the viewing room itself for the duration of the video being played. You can discuss this matter with the identification department before you attend if you like.

Q. what happens after the video identification parade?

A: After you have watched the video clips, you can leave the room. One of the police officers, or a different police officer, may write down what happened when you watched the video clips. This is called a statement and there is no need to worry about this.

Q. If I picked out a person you may want to know if you were right.

A: The police officer is not allowed to tell you this but you will have done an important job anyway.

Q. what happens next?

A: When the Video Identification Parade is finished, a lawyer will decide what to do next. Someone will tell you what will happen.

Q. what if I am worried about things after the parade?

A: There are lots of people who can help you. You can talk to someone in your family, the police officer you have spoken to, a teacher, a social worker, or someone else. They can tell the lawyer about any worries you may have.

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