The National VIPER® Bureau

Viper Logo

The National VIPER® Bureau working in partnership with 22 forces across the UK including West Yorkshire Police


VIPER® are a team within West Yorkshire Police, and provide a nationally available video identification service including a range of identification related products and services to the police every day. The service is provided to the police on a cost recovery basis.

The VIPER system, originally developed by staff and Officers from West Yorkshire Police, provides video identification parades as part of a fully managed and secure identification parade service. Subscribers to the VIPER Service include Forces within England and Wales together with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Police Scotland, British Transport Police and the Royal Military Police.

  • The service has been highly successful and produces around 16,000 identification parades in a typical year, using specialist editing techniques and processes.
  • Communication between forces and VIPER to manage the production of video identification parades is via secure police networks allowing forces to work securely and collaboratively to identify suspects of crime.
  • VIPER Users operate a simple software interface to record images, select volunteers to appear alongside the suspect and to request the parades to be viewed by witnesses.
  • Every image of a suspect or a volunteer is quality controlled by VIPER throughout the process, allowing Identification Officers to concentrate their time on organising and conducting witness viewings in addition to providing case management.
  • The service includes a fully integrated training team to assist new Forces and their staff, whilst continuing to support and update its existing Users across the UK.
  • The service employs a dedicated team to record images of members of the public who have volunteered their image for use in VIPER video identification parades.
  • The images stored within the gallery of volunteers reflect the diverse range of appearances found within the UK.
  • Where suspects with a unique appearance (for example a tattoo or distinctive facial feature) are required to be recorded, the team are able to replicate their features onto the images of the relevant volunteers in the identification parade upon request.
  • Parades of this type are in line with current legislation and enable an identification parade to take place, even in the most complex cases.

The VIPER® Service

Since its introduction in the late 1990’s, the service has been highly successful in UK courts due to its unique system design, quality assurance, adherence to best practice and compliance with national and international standards.

The service provides a 4-stage process, which involves:

  • Each image recorded of a suspect is submitted to VIPER® for quality assurance and approval to ensure recordings of suspects adhere to relevant image standards.
  • Access to a professionally managed gallery of volunteers and a user friendly interface to help select images and request parades.
  • Preparation of video identification parades to meet the requirements of customers using specialist editing techniques.
  • The delivery, archiving and weeding of material for forces which subscribe to the VIPER® Service to assist in compliance with best practice and relevant legislation.

Once prepared by VIPER® the video identification parade is ready to be downloaded by the relevant force in the UK for a witness viewing via a dedicated secure portal only available to police forces which subscribe to the service. This flexibility, together with a high level of security and control for the images, supports the Home Office aims of driving innovation, collaboration and improved efficiency in policing.


VIPER® Volunteers

Group of people in a room

If you, or any of your family or friends, are unfortunate enough to be harmed by crime (or witness a crime) your help may be important. YOUR description of the offender may be used by the police to assist in the investigation. This could lead to a video identification parade being conducted to help identify possible suspects for that crime.

However, to produce the best possible video identification parades we need to ensure that a representative gallery of anonymous faces exists which reflects the diverse ethnic and cultural make-up of the UK population. Without this gallery of images, which continues to evolve over time, people harmed by crime may not have their opportunity to identify offenders.

In addition, suspects are provided the opportunity to demonstrate their innocence in a fair and legally compliant process.

To build a gallery of faces which reflects the diverse range of ethnicity and culture in our communities, we record volunteers from across the UK and from all walks of life. Our recording locations include universities, colleges, schools, places of worship, offices, shopping centres, community groups and many other organisations happy to host our recording sessions.

It is thanks to the help and support we receive from many thousands of volunteers that we are able to ensure that the faces of people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds are represented.  This provides those people harmed by crime (or who witness a crime) an opportunity to identify offenders and help bring them to justice.


Why your community needs your help

We are continually seeking assistance from those able to host an event to record new images of volunteers. Each volunteer who assists VIPER® will have their image recorded and receive a cash payment for their time and effort. Although this payment is paid directly to the volunteer, it is not unusual for hosted events to be used for local fund raising initiatives, where volunteers donate their payments to a charity of their choice.

VIPER® do not require and do not collect personal details from volunteers. Name, date of birth and address are NOT required. Only a volunteer’s stated age and nationality will be collected along with their image(s), which will only be used for identification parade purposes.

If you can assist by hosting a recording session, please contact:

[email protected]

If you would like more information, please visit the VIPER® website:

If you would like to follow VIPER® on Twitter:

Twitter: @WYP_VIPER


VIPER® is committed to protecting the rights and privacy of individuals in accordance with The Data Protection Act 2018 & General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Read the Viper Privacy Information Notice here.

Page last reviewed February 2020