How can the Police Identify Me?
The Police can use a number of means to identify a person as being an offender, including:
- Witness identification – through a photo board.
- Witness identification – through a line up parade.
- Witness identification – through computer generated images.
- Video footage (witnesses or police may make an identification of the offender).
- Finger prints.
The Police are required that show that the accused is the offender beyond a reasonable doubt. Witness identification is generally the weakest form, although video footage can be just as weak where the image is unclear. Further, fingerprints and DNA in itself will not be enough to show you committed offence, but merely you had been in area of the offence or touched some item related to the offence.
Accordingly, the Police will usually need to use more than one of the above means to show the accused committed the offence, particularly where there is no other evidence putting the accused at the time and place the offence occurred. Ultimately, it will be a question for the Magistrate, Judge or Jury as to whether the Police have presented enough evidence to identify you as the offender beyond a reasonable doubt.
The law that governs identification procedures in Queensland, is the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act, Queensland and the Act’s Regulations.
Procedural Requirements of Police in Witness Identification
Section 617(1)(b) of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act states that where the Police conduct an identification interview with a witness via a photo board, that photo board must have at least 12 photographs. Further, one of the photographs must be the suspect and the remaining 11 must be of persons with a similar appearance to the suspect.
Schedule 10 of Police Powers and Responsibilities Regulation Queensland, sets out a Responsibilities Code for Police that further regulates the procedures Police must follow. Sections 45(1), 50(1) and 53(1) of the Responsibilities Code state that a Police may only interview one witness at a time for the purpose of an identification procedure.
Section 51 of the Responsibilities Code imposes similar requirements on identification parades as there are for a photo board. This section requires the suspect to be one of the persons in the line up and the remaining 11 to be of similar appearance to the suspect with similar clothing. The conditions of the parade should also be similar to that described by the witness when the saw the offender pursuant to section 49 of the Responsibilities Code.
Section 48 of the Responsibilities code entitles you to choose your position for that parade and change that position for each witness. Further, the process should be recorded where reasonably practical under section 47 of the Responsibilities Code.
It is important that you understand that you are not in any way obligated to participate in an identification parade pursuant to section 48 of the Responsibilities code. The Police cannot force you to participate and cannot conduct one without your consent.
Do I have to give Identifying Particulars – Your Rights and Obligations
For all offences, except some minor offences, the Police can issue you with a ‘Notice To Provide Identifying Particulars’ under section 470 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act Queensland. This Notice requires you to attend a police station within 7 days and allow a Police officer to take photographs of you and take your fingerprints.
The Police may also require you to give a DNA sample for indictable offences by giving you a “DNA Sample Notice” pursuant to section 482 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act Queensland. Again this notice requires you to attend a police station with 7 days and allow a Police officer to take a DNA sample from you.
If you are worried about complying with the notice get some legal advice before the 7 days are up, particularly if the offence is very minor as you may not be required to comply with the notice.
As noted above, you are not required to participate in an identification parade.