Policy and Procedure Recommendations for the Collection and Preservation of Eyewitness Identification Evidence

Gary L. Wells, Margaret Bull Kovera, Amy Bradfield Douglass, Neil Brewer, Christian A. Meissner, John T. Wixted

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: The Executive Committee of the American Psychology-Law Society (Division 41 of the American Psychological Association) appointed a subcommittee to update the influential 1998 scientific review paper on guidelines for eyewitness identification procedures. METHOD: This was a collaborative effort by six senior eyewitness researchers, who all participated in the writing process. Feedback from members of AP-LS and the legal communities was solicited over an 18-month period. RESULTS: The results yielded nine recommendations for planning, designing, and conducting eyewitness identification procedures. Four of the recommendations were from the 1998 article and concerned the selection of lineup fillers, prelineup instructions to witnesses, the use of double-blind procedures, and collection of a confidence statement. The additional five recommendations concern the need for law enforcement to conduct a prelineup interview of the witness, the need for evidence-based suspicion before conducting an identification procedure, video-recording of the entire procedure, avoiding repeated identification attempts with the same witness and same suspect, and avoiding the use of showups when possible and improving how showups are conducted when they are necessary. CONCLUSIONS: The reliability and integrity of eyewitness identification evidence is highly dependent on the procedures used by law enforcement for collecting and preserving the eyewitness evidence. These nine recommendations can advance the reliability and integrity of the evidence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-36
Number of pages34
JournalLaw and Human Behaviour
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • eyewitness identification
  • lineups
  • showups
  • identification procedures
  • eyewitness recommendations


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