Witness Interviews: Does Recall of Relational Information Improve Identifiability of a Facial Composite?

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Executive Summary

Facial composites are used by Police to generate lines of enquiry; unfortunately composites made by traditional 'Feature' systems are not often accurately named. One reason could be that these systems tend to rely on descriptions of the criminal's facial features, when it has been shown that relationships and distances between facial features - the relational information - is of importance for face recognition. Here, the authors present two experiments to investigate the usefulness of probing for relational information within witness interviews. Participant-witnesses underwent a typical Cognitive Interview (CI), an interview in which Featural information was probed for before Relational information (FR), or an interview in which probing for Relational information preceded probing for Featural detail (RF).

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