The CPS is acutely aware of the dangers and pitfalls of identification evidence. The Code for Crown Prosecutors specifically refers to identification evidence when applying the evidential sufficiency tests. Crown prosecutors must consider: 'If the identity of the defendant is likely to be questioned, is the evidence about this strong enough?'
Chief officers of police did not have to report identification cases to the Director of Public Prosecutions before the CPS was set up. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act now applies; its codes of practice on identification were revised in 1991, and give detailed and comprehensive guidance on all aspects of identification, including identification parades.
Last month, the CPS and the police agreed that the police would send to the CPS a written record of the description of the suspect provided by any potential witnesses. This follows the Court of Appeal's guidance, and will enable crown prosecutors to check the accuracy of descriptions and to provide the defence with relevant information.
The courts maintain a rigorous examination of identification evidence, and the CPS's experience is that the Court of Appeal guidelines (Regina v. Turnbull and others) are adhered to. The courts have also emphasised the importance of judges giving appropriate warnings in identification cases.
Director of Public Prosecutions
Crown Prosecution Service
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