Policies and Procedures
E Fit Procedure.
1.1 This procedure follows NPCC guidance on the construction of Facial Composite Images by trained Surrey Police personnel. The term 'composite' in this context means any image produced by computerised systems or drawn.
1.2 An E-FIT will be considered where the offence under investigation meets the investigation framework with consideration to the severity of threat, harm or risk to those involved.
1.3 Each crime will be considered on its own merit.
1.4 The use of Facial Identification must be restricted as it is resource-intensive requiring a minimum of two hours per witness and may be extended if the witness is traumatised by the incident/attack. Investigators should always consider the evidential value facial identification has to any investigation and, in any case, must obtain the authority of the Detective Sergeant (Case Supervisor) before employing the services of an E-Fit officer.
1.5 An E-Fit image must only be produced by suitably trained staff within the Identification Suite
2. Requesting the E-Fit
2.1 The witness must have a clear mental image of the person and more importantly can visualise or describe, however simply, the facial features to be reproduced. A witness being confident that they could identify the suspect again is recognition. This is NOT the same as being able to confidently recall the facial features, without which a composite image cannot be attempted.
2.2 In order to produce an E-FIT, the witness must have seen the front of the offenders face, (face to face).
2.3 The first description given MUST be recorded by the Officer in case (OIC) prior to requesting an E-Fit
2.4 The Investigating Officer should liaise with the Identification Suite E-FIT operative as soon as practicable as time is critical in the use of facial identification AND before employing other methods of identification. This contact should ideally be made within 24 hours of the incident.
2.5 They must complete the E-Fit request form and email it to !E-FitRequestsSurrey detailing the witness contact details, first description and any other information they feel relevant to the request i.e. vulnerability, reason for delay of request etc.
2.6 Once the request form is received the E-Fit operative will make contact with the witness and carry out an initial assessment as to E-Fit procedure suitability. In particular they should ensure:
- The witness is willing to devote the time necessary to complete the composite picture;
- A suitable environment is agreed whereby the witness is not likely to be distracted or engaged in a busy working environment;
- They are made aware that any composite image created may be published in the media
If it is deemed that they can, an appointment will be made with the witness, ideally to take place within 72 hours dependant on witness availability etc.
2.7 The E-Fit operator will make an appointment for the witness to attend a suitable location. The default location will be the Identification Suite at Woking, Staines or Reigate dependant on closeness to witness location and availability of staff. If not appropriate then alternative locations would be considered once suitable risk assessments have been completed. If location is to be the witness home address, where possible, two E-Fit operatives will attend.
2.8 If there are transportation issues with the witness attending the location the OIC will be contacted to make the necessary transport arrangements.
3. Multiple Witnesses
3.1 Where practicable, a different composite operator should be used for each witness to avoid cross-contamination of the images. (All witness details can be submitted on one request form per investigation to ensure this is complied with.)
3.2 Where there has been more than one witness to a single incident, each witness must be assessed individually on their ability to provide details from which an image could be produced.
3.3 Where more than one witness is able to describe what appears to be the same individual, accurately, composite images can be produced from each witness providing:
a. Each witness provides an individual image separately from other witnesses.
b. The witnesses do not work together in producing their own composite image and are not shown other composite images during the production of their own image.
3.4 Where more than one composite image is available and it is certain that they are of the same person, the OIC may consider that it is appropriate to either use the composite images singularly or in combination through circulations and appeals for identification.
3.5 Where there are multiple witnesses it may be appropriate to only complete one image with the most appropriate witness. This will be based on discussions with the OIC and initial assessment by the E-Fit operative.
3.6 A composite image produced from witnesses working together must not be attempted, as this will amount to cross-contamination of each witness' primary memory.
4. Witness Support
4.1 The E-Fit procedure must be completed in accordance with the Home Office document Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings: Guidance for Vulnerable or Intimidated Witnesses, including Children.
4.2 A support person who is known to the witness may be present during the interview to provide emotional support (the ‘interview supporter’.) Where this is appropriate and practical, the views of the witness should be established prior to the interview as to whether they wish another person to be present and, if so, who this should be.
4.3 It should be noted that interview supporters are not the same as ‘appropriate adults’. Appropriate adults have not been required in witness interviews since the revised edition of the Codes of Practice to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 came into force on 1st April 2003 (‘witness statements’ are no longer included in the list of circumstances in which an appropriate adult is needed during interviews with suspected offenders in Code C paragraph 11.15.)
4.4 Other witnesses in the case, including those giving evidence of an early complaint, cannot act as interview supporters. Interpreters and intermediaries should also not act as supporters; these different functions should not be vested in one person.
4.5 Supporters must be clearly told that their role is limited to providing emotional support and that they must not prompt or speak for the witness, especially on any matters relevant to the investigation.
4.6 Where an interview supporter is present, they must be clearly identified at the beginning of the interview. Whenever possible, they should also be visible in one of the angles recorded. Best practice would be for the supporter to make sure they are outside the witness’s line of vision, for example by sitting on the opposite side of the witness to the interviewer.
4.7 Where the witness is under 18 years, consent to complete the procedure should be sought from the parent or legal guardian (completed when conducting the initial telephone assessment to establish suitability of E-Fit) unless it will cause an unnecessary delay to the investigation.
4.8 Where the victim or witness account has been obtained via video interview then the procedure to create the E-FIT should also be recorded using video equipment. This is to ensure consistency as the production of the composite image may form part of the evidence of that witness. The OIC will be responsible for making these arrangements for a suitable location.
4.9 It is not necessary for the E-FIT operator to be video interview trained. The OIC will be responsible for ensuring a suitably video trained officer is present.
5. Dispute over E-Fit
5.1 Once the initial contact and assessment has been made, it is the E-FIT operator’s decision as to whether E-FIT is appropriate in each case. The E-FIT operator will inform the OIC of their decision.
5.2 In the event the OIC disputes an E-FIT operator’s decision not to undertake an E-FIT the matter will be referred to the Identification Suite Inspector for a discussion with the Divisional Detective Inspector for a final decision.
5.3 The operator will not be used to take a witness statement from the victim or witness. A witness statement should be taken by another member of staff and ideally this should be completed prior to the beginning of the E-FIT procedure.
6. E-Fit Request Process
1. Request received to conduct E-FIT procedure.
2. Enter job on spreadsheet and create job folder – Hyperlink job number to folder (e.g. FOLDER NAME 15EFIT01)
3. Contact witness. Did they see face and can they describe the facial features? (Within 24 hours of receiving request.)
4. Book Procedure (Within 7 days of receiving request. Ideally 3 days but depends on witness and staff availability)
6.1 WITH WITNESS
1. Conduct procedure with witness. Notes made during procedure must be exhibited (OPERATOR EXHIBIT NOTES)
2. Print completed image. Witness and operator to sign and date (WITNESS EXHIBIT IMAGE) Ensure warning is added re altering i.e. "To alter, add, tint, colour or change any details within the pictorial statement would amount to tampering with evidence"
3. Witness signs Statement (WITNESS STATEMENT)
6.2 BACK IN OFFICE
1. Transfer image PNG from E-fit folder (My documents) to job folder.
2. Burn e-fit image to disk and file.
3. Operator signs statement (OPERATOR STATEMENT)
4. Scan operator notes (if produced) and place in job folder.
5. Inform OIC by e-mail that e-fit is completed and attach ID Sought poster.
6. Produce E-fit poster and upload to Niche documents along with statements.
7. Send Statements and Disk to OIC in post.
8. Close job on spreadsheet.
9. Archive job folder.
7. Circulation of image in the media
7.1 The E-Fit operative will decide if the image produced is SUITABLE for circulation in the media.
7.2 The OIC/Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) will decide if the image will be PUBLISHED in the media and they will liaise with the Media Department.
7.3 If a suspect becomes known between completing the E-FIT and potential publication then it must be withdrawn from publication subject to further authorisation by the Detective Inspector/SIO for the investigation.
7.4 Witnesses must be informed of any publication of the E-FIT by the OIC before it is published.
7.5 The following declaration must be attached to the image warning anyone that:
"To alter, add, tint, colour or change any details within this image would amount to tampering with evidence."
7.6 The OIC/SIO will be responsible for internal circulation of an E-Fit image across the police service and other enforcement agencies for the purposes of intelligence briefings.
8. Security Videos and Stills
8.1 Requests for composites should not normally be made when security videos and stills are available. However, if they are of such poor quality as to be considered unusable for identification purposes, then a composite may be compiled.
9. Witness Contamination
9.1 Where a suspect is known to police a composite image must not be produced.
9.2 A witness or victim must not be shown photographs or be exposed to any form of identification procedure before being asked to produce a composite. This is to eliminate the risk or suggestion of contamination to the primary memory that could affect recall.
9.3 Consideration may be given to showing photographs after the production of a composite image as the process may enhance the chances of identification of a suspect.
Note. See R v VIRAG (1976), R v DOUGHERTY (1973) and Codes of Practice - Code D, Annex E.
9.4 Investigating officers must remember that any composite image created in accordance with this procedure must not be shown to any witnesses prior to an identification procedure. (Formally NPIA Facial Identification Guidance 2009.)
10. Staffing of Identification Suite
10.1 The ID unit has 8 Full Time members of staff working a varied shift pattern including weekends. The office hours are:
Mon – Thurs 0800 - 2200
Fri 0800 - 2000
Sat & Sun 0800 – 1800 (only one member of staff covering these days)
11.1 The Identification Suite will prioritise requests dependant on severity and risk factors involved.
12.1 All staff working within the Force Identification Unit will be trained on the use of E-FitV software and associated Paintshop programs. Any updates to the software will be trained by attendance on training courses run by Visonmetric when appropriate.
12.2 All E-FIT operators may be required to be deployed anywhere within the Surrey Police Area.
13.1 All material created during the facial imaging process will be retained in accordance with Force Policy. All original documents including composites, notes, statements, digital data and any other relevant documentation must be retained in accordance with force policy.
13.2 Operators, OICs and Disclosure Officers are reminded that the prosecution must inform the defence of the existence of any unused composite image or unfinished image, irrespective of the technique used and any notes made. Any such unused composite image and notes will therefore be retained by the investigation and the witness may be called upon to produce them in any subsequent proceedings.
14. Compliance with MOPI
14.1 All unidentified E-Fits will be stored in a central folder named “Unidentified E-Fits”. Once identification has been made the OIC will update the occurrence to that effect, and inform the E-Fit operator responsible for creating the E-Fit. It will then be the responsibility of this member of staff to move the E-Fit into the separate file entitled “Identified E-Fits” in order that it can be searched and the E-Fit disposed of in line with the requirements of MOPI.