A question surrounding the use of Body Worn Cameras to record a CCTV monitor was asked in the Comments over at my Blog on BWC’s..
I know this is happening and have seen the results.
I have also seen the results of screens being recorded on personal smartphones and job issued tablets, such as iPads.
Let me be clear again – there are many circumstances where this is acceptable.
- The urgent need to capture and disseminate visual intelligence to aid in the quick recognition of witnesses or suspects.
- The need to capture something from a machine prior to conducting a Hard Disk Drive(HDD) removal. Its always good to have a backup!
- The urgent need to capture and retain the settings of a DVR and/or camera view.
For points 2,3 – I always recommend using the Video out of the DVR first, and recording that. However I know that this equipment may not readily be available.
The problem though is when something is captured from a monitor and then no efforts are made to retain the original native evidence, according to accepted best practices in Digital Multimedia Evidence (DME) Acquisition. Nowhere, in any document that I am aware of, is there any mention of recording a screen.
If a screen is recorded for initial intelligence and then that ends up being used as evidence, could there be a breach of process argument? If no attempts were made to recover it correctly, perhaps so.
It’s not just evidential integrity – it’s the quality as well. I showed some examples Here, on another recent post.
The damage to the image is known as the Moire effect. Although there are restoration techniques open to analysts, the initial integrity of the image could be called into question.
Rather than link to various Guidance and Best Practice documents – that I will get around to listing at some point, let’s look at it this way…. and this is based upon my experiences rather than documentation!
- CCTV at Scene >
- Required urgently >
- Do not have technical knowledge or equipment to recover >
- Capture screen with BWC >
- Verbalise your reason for doing so >
- Add to dispatch log that attendance must be made by trained personnel with equipment to recover DME evidence >
- At end of incident, record also the Recorder front panel, back panel and Graphical User Interface. This may aid the person requested to attend for evidential acquisition >
- Submit (correctly completed) request for attendance by expert immediately and forward copy of your BWC.
Easy…. but it’s not! Why?
The reality is that there are two points in this list that are out of the first responder’s control, but they affect their ability to do the job.
The first is having the knowledge and equipment to conduct the acquisition immediately. Due to the financial restraints put on the Police, have they got the money to send people for training and supply them with access to basic retrieval kits?
Next, is the attendance of an expert to conduct acquisition. Forces understand that they must have CSI’s to recover traditional forensic evidence but are cutting back on CCTV retrieval. Specialist units of every type are being closed or thinned down, in order to save money.
As a result, people are left to run the gauntlet and do their best. Most are aware that it’s not the best solution but are stuck between a rock and a hard place!
It is also worth mentioning that probably half of the requests to attend a digital acquisition could be negated by CCTV and Video Surveillance System owners actually understanding their requirements of use.
This is taken from the old UK Home Office and Police guidelines for Digital CCTV. 7 easy points that every owner should comply with. Again, another reality is that people install and forget… until something is needed. Then they expect someone else to get it….. but I could write a complete article on the battles here!
The comment over on the BWC Post asked me for my thoughts on people using a recording of a CCTV Monitor. Hopefully I’ve made it clear that I believe it acceptable in certain circumstances, but it must always be followed up by the correct acquisition and retention of the original evidential data.