FunAre the recognition wheels effective?

Are the recognition wheels effective?

The Spanish Criminal Procedure Law allows the holding of recognition rounds to clear up doubts about the identification of the person accused of committing a crime. However, experts in the Psychology of testimony, a discipline that attempts to determine the credibility of statements, give a series of recommendations to avoid bias and ensure the impartiality of this resource. The goal is to ensure that the suspect has the same probability of being chosen as the other components of the wheel, based solely on his appearance. For the researcher Antonio Manzanero, one of the referents in this field, it is necessary that it contain a sufficient number of members – in this way, there is less probability of pointing out an innocent by chance – and that the suspect is not different from the rest the subjects.

If you are not sure, you better not choose

To achieve this, it is recommended that the wheel be made up of people who fit the description that the witness gave at the time . As for the number of components, the ideal is that it is between ten and twelve. In any case, it should not be less than six. It is also advised that these appear one by one and not all at the same time, so that the witness evaluates the resemblance of each of them with the mental image they have of the suspect, and not with the one that they all have of each other.

The instructions given to the witness before the wheel are very important. The appropriate thing is to be properly informed of the process and warn that the suspect may not be at the wheel. Otherwise, the person will always tend to choose one of them, even if they are not totally sure of being right.

For a hair

However, modern identification techniques make it possible to determine the identity of a stranger from a simple DNA test of the hair of the person in question. Of course, for the results to be reliable, the genetic material must not have degraded, which can happen over time or if it has been exposed to inclement weather.

Well, a team of researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in the US, has developed a new strategy that promises to be more effective. The idea is to analyze some proteins present in the hair, since, as they say, these also present characteristic variations in each individual and are more stable than DNA.

To prove this, they examined hair samples belonging to six people who died about 250 years ago. In this way, they were able to determine that the protein markers susceptible to analysis were in perfect condition. As they indicate, with between ninety and one hundred of them it would be possible to distinguish a person among the entire world population.

Image: iStock / Julie Russell – LLNL

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