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Police to review line-up procedures

Police spokesman Andreas Angelides

Police said on Tuesday they were reviewing procedures after MPs expressed outrage over an underage victim of sexual abuse being made to physically go through a police line-up of suspects and point out the perpetrator without having their identity protected.

Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said the chief of the force had ordered the immediate review of the identification procedures in cases involving children or other vulnerable witnesses.

Angelides said the particular procedure was followed when necessary and rarely in child abuse investigations, adding that reports on the case in question had been misleading.

Police regulations call for the witness to touch the person identified on the shoulder but there were also exceptions.

If the witness can’t or doesn’t want to touch them for various reasons, for example if it’s a woman who had been raped or a child who was abused, authorities accept identification where the suspect was clearly pointed out by the witness.

“In the case in question, and I stress this, there was no identity parade nor was the witness asked to touch the individual, but they were asked to identify them,” he said.

Angelides said the witness was asked to identify the suspect or not by passing from an office in the presence of police and welfare officers.

On Monday, lawmakers criticised the police after discovering that the face-to-face identification of suspects was provided for in a police regulation.

MPs complained that the existence of this regulation never came up during the lengthy discussions held to formulate the national strategy for combating sexual abuse.

According to committee chair Stella Kyriakidou, tapping suspects on the shoulder is an unacceptable practice as not only can it re-traumatise victims, it also fails to protect their anonymity.

MPs have since addressed a letter to the justice ministry – responsible for the police – asking that the practice be immediately terminated, whether it concerns underage or adult victims.

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