Increase in virtual ID parades

The number of suspects put on hi-tech parades in Stoke-on-Trent quadrupled in 2007. Virtual line-ups held in the north of the county rose to 328 between January and December last year, compared to 80 in 2006.

Feb 28, 2008
By Paul Jacques

The number of suspects put on hi-tech parades in Stoke-on-Trent quadrupled in 2007. Virtual line-ups held in the north of the county rose to 328 between January and December last year, compared to 80 in 2006.

Viper (Video Identification Parade Electronic Recording) parades were introduced in 2003, replacing more costly, time-consuming, conventional ID parades.

Viper draws on a database of 25,000 video images of people of different ages, ethnic groups and physical appearance. Suspects are filmed in custom-built studios at Burton police station or the Northern Area Custody Facility in Etruria for a 30-second clip in which they face three different directions. They work with their solicitors and specially trained officers to select images of people from the database for a DVD compilation, into which their clip is inserted, which can be shown to victims and re-watched as many times as needed. Parades are viewed at Burton, Rugeley and Meir police post.

Viewing opportunities improved in the north of Staffordshire following a switch from Stoke police station to better facilities at Meir in November.

Force identification officer, Inspector Alan Gee, said: “When Viper was launched, facilities were available only at Burton – which was not ideal for victims, suspects, solicitors and police officers travelling from north Staffordshire. As a result, we’ve recently focused more resources on Stoke-on-Trent to try to provide the best, and most efficient, service across the county.

“Last year there was a 410 per cent increase in the number of parades in the north of the county. Over 50 per cent of ID parades lead to a positive identification and Viper played a key role in several major inquiries in 2007.

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