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What is an ID parade?

ID or identity parade (also called a 'line-up') involves a suspect standing with at least 8 other people. The other 8 people have to be of similar appearance to the suspect. They then ask a witness to look at the people lines up to see if they can pick the person who committed the offence.

ID parades in Victoria

According to the Victoria Police Manual, 2 suspects may be included in an ID parade if they are of similar appearance. If 2 suspects are to be used, then the ID parade has to include at least 12 other people.

Under Victorian law a person cannot be forced to take part in an ID parade. Despite this police do not have to tell a person that they are free to refuse to take part. If a person does refuse to take part in an ID parade, this may be admissible in evidence against the accused person. Police must not participate in an ID parade unless they are suspects.

How the ID parades are conducted

The police officer conducting the ID parade has to provide information listed in police form 296 to the suspect and any lawyer parent or other party who is present on behalf of the suspect.

The officer has to tell each of the witnesses:

  • how the parade will be conducted
  • that they may ask to hear the people lined up to speak
  • that they may view the people from any angle or moving.

See Victoria Police Manual—Identifying offenders.

Police must then make sure that each witness views the ID parade separately. If the witness believes that they recognise a person as a suspect they must indicate the person and verbally refer to the participant. For example, they might say, 'The third person from the left is the person I saw'.

Commonwealth ID parades

Under Commonwealth law an ID parade may be held if the suspect agrees and if the suspect asks for an ID parade, this must be organised if this is reasonable under the circumstances.

What the suspect must be told

An ID parade cannot be held unless the suspect has been told:

  • of their right to refuse to participate
  • that if they refuse, this refusal can be used in evidence at court
  • that they have the right to have their lawyer or person of their choice present (provided they can be there within a reasonable time)
  • in a future court proceeding.

These warnings must be video or audio recorded.

See s. 3ZM—Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).

Dress codes

The Commonwealth Act sets out in detail the way an identification parade has to be conducted. Participants are not allowed to dress themselves in a way that will obviously distinguish them from others in the line-up.

Protection for the witnesses

Parades must be conducted so that the witnesses cannot be seen if the witness asks for this. Each witness must view the line-up alone and must not communicate with the other witnesses until all witnesses have viewed the parade.

The witness must be warned that the suspect may not be in the line-up and that if the person is not able to identify the suspect with reasonable certainty, they must say so.

Young people

A young person (at both Victorian and Commonwealth law) is permitted to be in an ID parade, although they must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or independent third person.

Under Commonwealth law both the child and the parent (guardian or other person representing the child's interests) must agree to participating in the parade.

If either the child or their adult does not agree to the participation, then the matter must be decided by a court.

Consent by the child's parent is not mentioned in the Victorian Police Manual, although it states that police should get permission from the parents or guardians of young people who are not suspects where possible.

See s. 3ZN(3)—Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) and Victoria Police Manual—Identifying offenders.

More information


Evidence Act 2008 (Vic)

  • s. 114—exclusion of visual identification evidence

See Evidence Act 2008 (Vic).

Crimes Act 1914 (Cth)

  • s. 3ZM—identification parades
  • s. 3ZN—identification parades for suspects under 18

See Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).


Victorian Police Manual

See Victoria Police Manual—Identifying offenders.

Criminal Investigation and Procedure

Westlaw's resource has information about the powers and responsibilities of police when they are taking photographs or getting people to participate in identification parades.

See Visual, aural and other forms of sensory identification [1A.5.205].