Court cannot play CCTV

I read this article upon release but didn’t share or comment any further. I just rolled my eyes and moved on to the next CCTV Story of the day…

My reason for commenting on this now comes after the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s Tweet.


Let’s not fool ourselves here. This probably goes on, not just up and down the UK but, around the world every day.

Although there are many issues in the article worthy of discussion, let’s look at this statement:

“there has been a very clear order by Judge Harvey Clark on April 10 that the video must be compatible with court kit”.

My point here is that, shouldn’t it be the other way around?

The often unnecessary, and damaging, transcoding and recapturing of video evidence is putting a huge burden on the entire Criminal Justice System. By continuously forcing Digital Multimedia Evidence to be converted, purely so it plays on the Courts DVD Player, wastes so much time and effort.

Yes, there are times where the correct forensic processing of the video must take place. However, this is not your dancing cat footage for YouTube. This is evidence, so it must be dealt with correctly. If you convert a video incorrectly, and remove detail or add artefacts into that footage – can it be relied upon?

Is it not better to ensure that the courts have the ability to play the original recorded evidence first, before forcing it to be changed?

And if it is to be changed, in order to assist in the analysis, interpretation or presentation of that evidence, it should be down to a person competent in completing that task.

By Spreadys Posted in EEPIP

4 comments on “Court cannot play CCTV

  1. My how time flies when we’re having fun …. NOT!
    A quick rewind perhaps 8 years ish and The National CCTV Strategy published a basket of recommendations, including … no.34 “The Crown Prosecution Service and Court Service should develop the capacity to view digitally recorded CCTV evidence”.

    Add to that no.35 “Crown Prosecution Service and the police to develop a better understanding of disclosure and evidence continuity rules to ensure trials are not lost due to a failure to adopt proper procedures” and we can begin to see something of an anti pattern emerging.

    The problems of cracked trials due to CCTV was briefly researched I think around 10 years ago from memory, and the problems then were many and varied, but with one overriding consequence.

    Rubbish CCTV, both images and procedures, were costing a small fortune in lost trials, and nothing practical was being done about it.

    In my days of unlawfully impersonating an untrained journalist with intent to impart information on CCTV, I did actually produce an interview with DCI Mick Neville, from the Met. Police Viido unit, and having just had a quick re-scan of his comments then, it still makes for interesting reading some 6 and a bit years later.
    (hope you don’t mind the link David, feel free to remove if preferred).

    As you correctly surmised David, the problem of cracked trials due to CCTV issues has been a significant concern in the past, and indeed appears to be as prevalent globally as it is here in the UK.

    Even your esteemed colleague Jim Hoerricks was highlighting related issues on his blog back in 2009.

    Your suggestion that the Court Service should be able to play recordings, rather than the recordings being dumbed down to a problematic, albeit familiar and convenient format, is absolutely spot on. Likewise, the idea that a joined up approach using specialists to gather and present the ‘product’, is at the very least common sense, and at best an absolute necessity.

    Unfortunately, a universal lack of ‘joined up thinking’ and increasing levels of ignorance and apathy affecting various aspects of video surveillance, will no doubt only serve to heighten many of the problems which could have been addressed at least a decade ago … or more!


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