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A number of egregious miscarriages of justice has been associated with over-reliance on eyewitness identification evidence. The main reason for mis-identification appears to be that eyewitnesses overestimate their ability to recall the features of a person they saw. Moreover, if the identification is not challenged, over time the eyewitness tends to become more, rather than less, sure of the reliability of his identification. Evidence has been admitted into court in the past which is based on fleeting glimpses of the perpetrator in the dark; eyewitnesses proferring such evidence are often extremely convincing. Convictions have been obtained on the basis of a single, uncorroborated identification made in less than ideal circumstances.
Consequently, there have been efforts recently to tighten up the rules on identification, and give juries proper guidance on how to interpret eyewitness evidence.
For a more detailed discussion of issues relating to identification, see: