Eyewitness Evidence Is Even More Unreliable After A Bit Of A Chase


Witnesses to a crime might recall events and faces less accurately if physically exhausted at the time of the incident. That’s the conclusion from a study in which 52 police officers were asked to recall events and identify suspects from ID parades after reconstructed crime. Lorraine Hope of the University of Portsmouth, UK, and colleagues gave all participants a briefing about a pretend burglary. Half of them then exercised for around a minute, to the point of exhaustion. A minute later, all the police officers were taken to a house where they were confronted by the prime suspect of the burglary.

Only 27 per cent of those who had exercised were later able to identify the suspect in an ID parade, compared with 54 per cent of those who had not (note the  already massive failure of even trained eyewitnesses). Those who had exercised also recalled just 56 per cent of the required details about the suspect compared with 84 per cent from the non-exercisers.

This issue does not appear to have received any particular attention within the legal system, which continues to allow highly unreliable notions such as ‘credibility’, something people are useless at, to decide on evidence.


4 thoughts on “Eyewitness Evidence Is Even More Unreliable After A Bit Of A Chase

  1. Thanks to our brilliant Judicial System, we often recognise the burglars upon first sighting. If we can get there in time due to the hacking and slashing of our budgets.

  2. Indeed Ryan – though I can remember being in court and only able to recognise the perp because he was identified as the accused – so long having passed since I’d nicked him. The system forced us to do too much lying to tell the truth. In the States a cop was sent down because he didn’t see a beating taking place whilst he was running after the real perp (the beating was by two other cops on yet a third undercover one). Courts need bringing up to date on research.

  3. It’s a conscientious decision to be made, but a Police Officer should not lie at any cost. (unlike their clientele and their lawyers) I don’t know what time period you Policed in, but surprisingly enough officers are trained to be honest in their statements as obviously being honest is accepted at the courts and shows integrity and accountability. It is what separates them from the scrotes!

    Sounds like a bad case in the states.

    Unfortunately all logic and reason seems to evaporate when anything goes to court, sentencing guidelines, mitigating and aggravating circumstances and anything else shiny arse lawyers wish to confuse the jury with. IMHO court cases should be black and white, did the person in the dock commit the offence or not, not studying every legal definition, not bringing in character witnesses. Yes or No did they commit the crime and also only reduction of sentences should only be provided if they admit it at the earliest opportunity, not at court at the Police interview!

  4. I’m an oldie. We weren’t taught to lie directly. The system encourages peculiar forms of it – gaming is one example. I broadly agree with your view. The way we judge credibility is clearly hopeless, otherwise there would be less chance of parole boards being suckered by psychopaths – in reality they are three times more likely to be believed than your standard crimmo.

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