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Composite pictures

Information about when police may create an identikit, computer generated image or composite image of a suspect.

Under Victorian law the criminal identification unit within the Forensic Services Division of Victoria Police can compile computer-generated likenesses of offenders.

This is generally only done where:

  • the offence is serious or
  • the person is suspected of multiple offences
  • a witness gets a clear look at the offender.

See Victoria Police Manual—Identifying offenders.

Commonwealth

Composite pictures must not be used to help a witness to describe features of a suspect if that suspect is in custody.

Participation in an ID parade is to be preferred

If person is in custody or for other reason is able to participate in an identification parade, police must not show composite picture to a witness in order to identify the suspect unless:

  • suspect has refused to take part in an ID parade
  • suspect's appearance has changed since the offence was committed, or
  • if holding an ID parade would be unfair or unreasonable in circumstances.

See s. 3ZO(1)—Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).

Accused must be able to see the image shown

If a composite picture has been used to help a witness to describe features of a suspect and a suspect is later charged with the offence, the suspect or their legal representative must be given details of the picture that was shown to the witness and also any comments about the picture that were made by the witness.

See s. 3ZO(6)—Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).

Attending ID parade after viewing composite photo

Where an identification parade is organised, any witness who has been shown a composite picture of a suspect may be asked to attend the ID parade unless police in charge of the operation believes that this would be:

  • unfair to suspect or
  • unreasonable in circumstances.

See s. 3ZO(5)—Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).

More information

Legislation

Crimes Act 1914 (Cth)

  • s. 3ZO—identification by means of photographs
  • s. 3ZO(5)—witness attendance at ID parade after viewing composite picture
  • s. 3ZJ—taking fingerprints, recordings, samples of handwriting or photographs

See Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).

Reference

Victorian Police Manual

See Victoria Police Manual—Identifying offenders.

Updated