CCTV on trial: Matching video images with the defendant in the dock


  • Parts of this research have been presented at the Experimental Psychology Society London Conference, University College, London in January 2006 and at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference, University of York in March 2007.


The experiments reported in this paper investigated simultaneous identity matching of unfamiliar people physically present in person with moving video images typical of that captured by closed circuit television (CCTV). This simulates the decision faced by a jury in court when the identity of somebody caught on CCTV is disputed. Namely, ‘is the defendant in the dock the person depicted in video’? In Experiment 1, the videos depicted medium-range views of a number of actor ‘culprits’. Experiment 2 used similar quality images taken a year previously, some of which showed the culprits in disguise. Experiment 3 utilised high-quality close-up video images. It was consistently found that in both culprit-present and culprit-absent videos and in optimal conditions, matching the identity of a person in video can be highly susceptible to error. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.