ID parades have gone virtual in an effort to speed up the identification process for criminals and reduce stress for victims.
Virtual parade can save reduce stress for victims
Home Secretary David Blunkett officially opened the new hi-tech ID bureau in Yorkshire on Thursday.
Viper is a national database of 14,000 video images of both suspects and volunteers that allows the police to create virtual parades.
Traditional ID parades can take up to ten weeks to arrange but Viper can set up a video parade within a few hours.
It is also a great deal cheaper, costing on average just £150 compared to between £800 and £1,200 for a live parade.
If we can speed up parades to identify the suspects within days rather than weeks, we can bring these criminals to justice much more quickly and take them off the streets where they are causing so much harm,
David Blunkett, Home Secretary
Opening the new bureau Mr Blunkett said the scheme was a superb example of how technology can complement traditional policing methods.
"The virtual ID parade is a much less stressful experience for victims and witnesses to deal with, it saves police time and crucially, there are signs that is also increasing positive identifications," he said.
The system has proved to be particularly useful in identifying street robbers.
"If we can speed up parades to identify the suspects within days rather than weeks, we can bring these criminals to justice much more quickly and take them off the streets where they are causing so much harm," said Mr Blunkett.
"Witnesses don't even have to come into a police station. They can view ID parades at home or at a hospital beds via a laptop," added Superintendent Michael Fickling of the Viper Bureau.
The system has been developed by the West Yorkshire Police force and will be housed at their headquarters in Wakefield with the support of £7.6m of Home Office funding.
13 forces across the UK are already using Viper in over 90% of ID parades.
Officers simply send a head shot of their suspect to the bureau which compiles an ID parade with footage of eight look-alikes.
The virtual line-up is sent back to the force and witnesses can view the video parade within hours.
An average of 78 parades are held every day in the West Yorkshire region.