n South African Journal of Criminal Justice - Utilisation and usefulness of face composites in the South African Police Service - an evaluation study

Volume 19, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-8527
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2118



The current study investigates the degree to which face composites are utilised as an investigative tool in the South African Police Service. The article provides an overview of the conditions under which composites are produced by eyewitnesses to a crime, and points out constraints in terms of their usefulness and applicability. Composites were found to be produced after a longer delay than is recommended, and predominantly in violent and menacing crimes. Conviction rates for composite-related crimes were very low. However, more insight into actual use and case characteristics is needed before concluding on the usefulness of composites as an investigative tool or evidence. Directions for further research in this area are explored.

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