VIPER SYSTEM TAKES THE STING OUT OF BEING A WITNESSThe Crown Office chose the auspicious – or should that be suspicious? – date of 1 April 2004 to announce a new identification system that will introduce ‘virtual’ identity parades for criminals and make the process of identification more convenient and less stressful for victims and other witnesses. The system, known as VIPER, is being introduced in Scotland after the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service developed guidelines for its use. It uses video technology to hold ‘virtual’ identity parades, allowing ID parades to be held when and where convenient for victims and witnesses. The system uses a national database of images of volunteers to compile a video line-up, rather than using real people in a traditional live line-up. This will speed up the criminal justice process, as real life volunteers will not have to be found for each parade. Witnesses often find the process of identifying a suspect on a traditional ID parade stressful – VIPER allows them to make a positive identification without seeing suspects in person. It will operate in the Lothian and Borders and Grampian areas from early April and will be rolled out to police forces across Scotland in the future.