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Over-observed? What is the quality of CCTV in this new digital legal world?

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Poor quality CCTV evidence requires a witness to make an identification of the suspect. Good quality CCTV images are often left to the jury, who are unfamiliar with the face. Psychological research has demonstrated that identification procedures for both known and previously unknown suspects should be very different. A visual comparison of high quality imagery may suggest that a more reliable decision regarding identity will be made. However, studies indicate that when an assailant is unknown, identification is poor even when the image is of high quality, regardless of format. As such, research has demonstrated that recognizing or matching unfamiliar faces even in optimal conditions is an extremely error prone process. This paper examines the current legal framework for identification from imagery in the light of psychological research. Incorrect identifications may not necessarily be safeguarded against in some situations, although further research is needed to elucidate reliable identification methods for criminal prosecutions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-03-01

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