On the problem of speaker identification by victims and witnesses


  • Hermann Künzel University of Marburg




Lay speaker identification, non-expert testimony, victim, witness


In the major industrialized nations the use of the human voice as an instrument in committing crimes has been steadily increasing. In Germany, this tendency has been observed for several years in a variety of offences such as extortion, kidnapping, terrorist attack, rape, hoax bomb threats and, perhaps surprisingly, in a significant number of homicide cases (59 out of a total of 538 handled in 18 months). Thus, the identification of a criminal on the basis of his/her verbal behaviour has become a challenge to our judicial systems. However, there is considerable uncertainty on the part of the judiciary as to the degree of reliability of speaker identification (SID) by laypersons, and sometimes as to whether or not such evidence should be considered at all. Since research findings on the subject are sparse and to some degree controversial, reservations are certainly justified

Author Biography

  • Hermann Künzel, University of Marburg
    Hermann Kunzel has published widely on aspects of forensic phonetics. He is Associate Professor at the Institute of Phonetics at the University of Marburg and Head of the Speaker Identification and Tape Authentication Department of the Bunderkriminalamt, Wiesbaden.






How to Cite

Künzel, H. (1994). On the problem of speaker identification by victims and witnesses. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, 1(1), 45-57. https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsll.v1i1.45