Monday, September 05, 2005

Stooges

Over the past few months I have been involved in a fair number of identification procedures. I regularly go to St. Anns Road and Southwark ID Suites. As the Police force that I usually deal with is the Metropolitan Police I have become quite familiar with their video identification system.

The VIPER (Video Identification Parade Electronically Recorded) system is very simple. In stage one the Client has a video clip captured of his head and shoulders. Stage two is where the Client selects eight other similar clips to create a composite video of nine clips to be shown to the witness. These eight other clips come from a massive Police database of volunteers who have actually been paid to have their video recording captured - these volunteers are referred to by us in the business as stooges. Stage three is where the witness views the composite vide and tries to identify the Client.

Today I was at an ID Suite viewing a composite video prior to a witness watching the video. I have seen many of the stooges held on the Police database but time after time one particular youth stooge is rolled out. He has a particularly evil look about him and if a witness was looking at a video containing his clip they are likely to identify this stooge as he simply looks like a criminal. I do not know how many stooges the Metropolitan Police have on their system but I seem to be seeing the same stooges more regularly.

After having a small wager with the civilian staff member that was assisting with the parade that the evil stooge was going to be picked out I sat and waited for the witness to arrive. After half an hour the Police telephoned the witness to find out where they were and the reply that was given was that the witness had not attended because they did not know how to get to the ID Suite. The witness did confirm that they had been sent a map with directions. I was amused by this response as the witness was clearly reluctant to assist the Police. I was sat in the ID Suite and the witness lived less than a mile away, I have no doubt that he could have found the Police Station if he had chosen to look at the map.

Today was another waste of time. Despite the poor excuse given by the witness the case has been postponed for another viewing next week on the basis that the witness will attend then!

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

The same stooges will come up again and again. The accused will attempt to get stooges that match a general description and look evil and guilty. So naturally if a particularly evil guilty looking stooge is photographed they will crop up often.

In my student days, I did some ID parades for the police, it was quite good money for doing nothing; one of my fellow students refused to have any of it though; he was worried that if the witness picked you out, you'd then be charged with the crime.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know if any statistics are compiled on the percentage of positive identifications of "stooges" - which can be taken to be wrong - and thus provide good evidence of the unreliability of facial identification.

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOD,
its funny how that at 04.20am on a friday night, i decide to type 'Southwark ID Suite' into my google search bar and it brings up this incrideble blog,
I am a memeber of staff at Southwark ID Suite and this has made me giggle, what a small world it is

SW

Gavin said...

I get everywhere.

I am glad the blog gave you a laugh.

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