Privacy Information Notice – National VIPER® Bureau

With effect from the 01.01.21 - VIPER Volunteers


Who are VIPER?

VIPER are a small team within West Yorkshire Police who are the territorial police force responsible for policing the areas of West Yorkshire in North East England.

The Chief Constable - John Robins of West Yorkshire Police is the Data Controller and as such has overall responsibility for the lawful processing of all personal data processed by the force. He is assisted by the Data Protection Officer - Claire Vickers-Pearson who provides advice and guidance in relation to data protection law. Our data protection registration number is Z4894366 which is renewed each year.

If you have any questions about how we use your personal information, our DPO can be reached by the Information Management email at [email protected], or by post at Data Protection Officer, PO BOX 9, Laburnum Road, Wakefield, WF1 3QP.


What do we do?

We provide a service which prepares video identification parades for police forces. The police, including the UK military police, instruct VIPER as to the content of those video identification parades. As part of this service, we maintain a collection of images for use alongside the image of a suspect of a crime in a video identification parade.

The images of suspects are recorded by police forces who use the service. The other images we hold, which are used as 'foils/stand-ins' in video identification parades, are recorded by ourselves. Members of the public who take part in recording sessions are paid a monetary reward for doing so and participate voluntarily having been informed of the purpose and use of their image (personal data).

The service can only be provided to police forces with the continued help of the public. Members of the public have supported VIPER by volunteering to have their image recorded to act as a 'foil/stand-in' in video identification parades since the late 1990's. VIPER continue to record members of the public to provide 'foils/stand-ins' to appear within video identification parades which represent a very broad range of appearances. The collection of images includes people of all genders and appearances across a large age range.


What information do we use?

We use the following personal information relating to a ‘foil/stand-in’:

  • One or more video recordings of the person for use as a 'foil/stand-in'.
  • The nationality stated by the 'foil/stand-in'.
  • Descriptions of your appearance assigned by a member of the VIPER team such as ethnicity, tattoos, length or colour hair, gender, facial hair, build.
  • The age stated by the 'foil/stand-in'.
  • The location, date and time of the recording.
  • The value of the financial reward.
  • Which VIPER staff member carried out the recording.
  • Evidence that the 'foil/stand-in' was provided a unique business card.
  • The reference number (barcode) from the unique business card provided to the 'foil/stand-in'.

In the event the person being recorded is 17 years old or under, the VIPER staff member will confirm that the ‘foil/stand-in’ provided consent in writing from their parent/guardian to take part and have their image recorded. The consent form is obtained from the VIPER team in advance of planned recordings or in the event a parent or guardian is present at the time of the recording then this form can be completed at that time. Once the VIPER team are satisfied that the consent form has been completed correctly and is genuine, then a recording can be made and the consent form is handed back to the ‘foil/stand-in’.


What additional information did we collect prior to January 2015?

Prior to January 2015 we collected the stated name, address and date of birth of 'foils/stand-ins' in order to comply with financial audit requirements at the time of the recordings. This information was recorded on a form and is retained by VIPER. This practice stopped in January 2015, when we decided to reduce the amount of information collected from 'foils/stand-ins'. This followed a review of VIPER processes and the introduction of uniquely numbered business cards to anonymise the process.


Our Purpose for using your information

VIPER provide many thousands of video identification parades per year for police forces. Identification parades play a crucial role in police investigations and prosecutions. In order for the parades to be fair and comply with the legislation governing witness identification a large and diverse range of images is required to use as ‘foils/stand-ins’. Our lawful basis for processing the information is the performance of a task carried out in the public interest.

West Yorkshire Police has an Appropriate Policy – Sensitive Processing of Processing of Personal Data.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Code of Practice D sets out in legislation the guidelines for policing when undertaking an identification procedure, including for a video identification parade. 


Who we share personal information with?

We share volunteer images with police forces who use the VIPER service so they can produce video identification parades, and for training purposes in support of video identification. This is done under a contract we have with those forces. If your image is used in a parade where the suspect is prosecuted, it will also be shared under strictly controlled conditions with the prosecution and defence legal professionals in the case.

We may from time to time share information with partner academic institutions for the purposes of academic research, and for training purposes in support of video identification.


How long do we keep personal information?

We use the recordings of members of the public in multiple video identification parades. In some circumstances when undertaking investigations in to historic cases the police are authorised to use historic images of the suspect and so it is important that older images in our ‘foil/stand-in’ library are retained to be used for identification parades in these cases.  For this reason we keep some images indefinitely.

We undertake a review of the images in our ‘foil/stand-in’ image library every year, to examine if any of the images are no longer of use to policing.  Outcomes of the review will be one of the following:

  • continue to retain the recording
  • continue to retain the recording, but not allow further use of the recording in future video identification parades
  • delete the recording


Your rights

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) you have the right to:

  • Be informed how we will use your data
  • Request copies of your data
  • Request that incorrect data is rectified
  • In some circumstances have your data erased
  • Object to us or ask us to restrict the processing of your data and
  • In some circumstances where you have given us consent to use your data , you have the right to withdraw it at any time

For more information on how we use your data, to exercise any of your rights over your data or if you have any privacy concerns please contact the Information Management Team at:

[email protected] 

It is important that you keep the unique business card provided at the time of recording safe. This card and the unique number printed on it is the only link between you and your image, and we are not able to respond to data subject’s rights requests without it plus a picture of yourself.  For those people who are 17 years old or under at the time of the recording, the volunteer agreement form completed by an authorised supervising adult should also be retained with the business card.

If your image was recorded prior to 2015 and you would like to get in contact with us could you please provide your name, the location and date of recording accompanied by a photo of yourself so we can re-identify your image.

You can request that your image be removed from our database. Where we receive a valid request from a member of the public to remove a recording, we will ensure it is no longer available for use in future identification parades. If the recording has not yet been used in an identification parade, we will erase the image within 30 calendar days. However, if your recording has already been used in an identification parade then it will continue to be held for the continued administration of justice for those case(s). Such parades are retained for a period of time that is different in each case.

If you are not satisfied with our response to a concern you have raised, request to use your rights or if you believe we are using your data in a way which is an infringement of the GDPR you have a right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office at or by calling 0303 123 1113.


Transfers to other countries

VIPER does not transfer any data outside of the EEA and all of the servers operated by VIPER are based in the UK. 

VIPER and the VIPER logo are registered trademarks.


Read more about the National VIPER® Bureau here.


Page last reviewed December 2022.