Lesson 4: Description of Persons

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The ability to describe people accurately plays a very important role in police work as a whole and in criminal investigations in particular. With reference to enquiries relating to crime, it is often indispensable to acquire from the persons interviewed particulars of some persons alleged of committing the offence so that a deception may be disseminated and the offender traced. In the same way, description of persons in custody, who may not have been seen by anyone at the time of the offence, are required for crime records. Interestingly, the worth of the M.O. System is dependent immensely on good information relating to the description of persons suspected, wanted or in custody, being recorded by those engaged in crime detection. However, the idea to be borne in mind when interviewing persons with the ability to provide descriptive information is to engender, if possible such a description as would facilitate a recognition of the suspect possibly by someone to whom the suspect was previously unknown.

It should be noted that ambiguous terms such as ordinary, normal and average must to be avoided since ambiguous terms could be misleading.

Persons typically required to be described include: 1.Wanted 2.Suspected 3.Missing and 4.Found unknown dead bodies.

An accurate and intelligent description makes identification of persons easier. There are no strict rules or method of describing persons however the following suggestions are recommended to provide an all-purpose guidance in the description of persons. Every individual possess four important features: - 1.Features which cannot readily be changed 2.Distinctive marks 3.Peculiarities 4.Characteristic mannerism

These features may be elaborated as follows: -

Features, which cannot be readily altered: (i)BUILD: Stout, thin, slim, erect, and stoops (ii)COMPLEXION: Black, copper, light copper, etc. (iii)CHIN: Long or short, pointed, square, round. (iv)EYES: Color – blue, green, brown, small, big, medium, blind, long, lashes. (v)EARS: Large, small, lobules, large lobes. (vi)FACE: Oval, round, long, wrinkled, high cheek, Protruding, forehead. (vii)HEIGHT: Short or tall (viii)HEAD: Long, large, small, oblong. (ix)HANDS: Long, short, broad, long-fingers, Short-Fingers. (x)LEGS: Straight, small, bow legged.

(xi)NOSE: Hooked, large, small, wide or narrow. DISTINCTIVE MARKS: TRIBAL MARKS: Denoting tribe or country of origin.

SCARS:- Vaccination marks, moles tattoo, deformities (especially those which are visible or on forearms. Commence at top of head and work downwards.

PECULIARITIES: (a) WALKING: Smartly, slow or slovenly, limping etc. (b) VOICE: High pitched, deep, loud, soft, stammer or

Other impediment, difficult in pronouncing certain words or letters.

MANNERISM It must be emphasized that uniqueness of every individual can be demonstrated both implicitly and explicitly through certain bodily features, gestures, attitudes and actions.

Indeed, these behavioral attitudes are referred to as individual characteristic or mannerism. The reliability of mannerisms in the description of persons can be inferred from the fact that though some people can change their appearance, very few can rid themselves of mannerisms that they have acquired in their lives. 

Examples include the following examples of a person who: Bites the tongue; Bites the finger nails; Sings a particular Song; Drinks a particular brand of spirits or beer; Smokes a particular cigarette or particular Way of holding a cigarette; Holds his head on one side while walking;