In the next few weeks, the various sections of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 will come into force in the UK.
One of those sections has been hotly debated, and reported on, by all sides of the Criminal Justice system.
There will now be a 28-day limit to the amount of time a person can be bailed pending charge. There are certain extension possibilities, but these must be heavily scrutinized and justified by senior officers.
Although designed to stop lengthy periods of pre-charge bail, from a Forensic Video Analysis point of view, I have some concerns…
There are already huge pressures on Detectives and Investigating Officers to get though their ballooning workloads. This limit will only increase the pressure.
With video and images, they must be dealt with correctly. Conducting any process quickly, must be completed by someone with the required competency.
Let me give you an example….
An officer attends at a premise to view and assess the CCTV in relation to an offence. They have minimal knowledge and training on the multimedia evidence so two things usually happen..
- They record the footage, as its displayed on the CCTV monitor, on their personal mobile phone or agency supplied tablet or Bodycam.
- They ask the owner of the CCTV to export them the footage.
The officer then does their best to view the footage on police systems and perhaps obtains some still images using some screen snipping tool or a player’s built-in saving function.
From there, that evidence; the video and the stills, go into evidence and the case proceeds….
Is the evidence correct?
Is it the original evidence?
Has it been processed correctly?
Has it been interpreted correctly?
Have the wrong decisions been made because of errors in interpretation?
You may think this is an exaggeration!..
…and on that second one, Judge Rafferty stated, “there must never be another case in this country where those analyzing CCTV don’t have the best equipment.”
I have other examples, but you should get the picture (no pun intended)!
The point to all this is that, in order to quickly obtain and deal with the evidence, corners are being cut.
Time is no longer on an investigating officers side. Being forced into making quick decisions could be detrimental to the innocent, and provide an easy escape to the guilty.
Police Forces in the UK need to identify solutions to speed up the process of initial investigation, the correct decision making and the professional output of CCTV material.
…and all of this needs to be aligned with the requirements of the Forensic Science Regulator (FSR) and best practices for the analysis of CCTV and Digital Multimedia Evidence.
I was a huge advocate of many different pieces of software and analysis tools whilst a CCTV Investigator within UK Policing. Over the years I have written about many of them here on my blog.
Some would take time to learn and understand the various issues. Then, using them to extract, convert, analyse, interpret and present the visual evidence would take time to validate each process and ensure image integrity throughout the chain.
It’s clear, with the reduction in competent staff, that Forces are not seeing the ticking ‘time’ bomb.
Lack of directed training for first responders and detectives, lack of resources for investigators, lack of knowledge by ‘managers’ who believe, “it’s just a video!”. There are actually ‘managers’ who believe that an expertise in video is pointless!
I no longer use 5-10 different pieces of software during my investigations. I have not got the time.
I need to use as little as possible. I need to know that I can rely on what I am seeing. I can trust what I am presenting, and I can repeat my process if required.
Amped FIVE has quickly become the one-stop-shop for Forensic Video Analysis. It gives me the confidence to quickly make the right decisions. Even when negative, I can still state, quickly, that a request is not possible or that the data is not there. No time wasted, no need to continue down this path…. No need to extend bail!
Get it, deal with it, output, report….. quick, simple, powerful, and with all the reporting features you will need to comply with FSR guidance, regardless of what ISO standard they eventually settle on.
When I’m in the UK, I run FREE Demo Days for UK Law enforcement up and down the country. If you want to see how FIVE can help you beat that 28 day limit then just drop me a message at my Amped mail: david.spreadborough (a) ampedsoftware.com.
Decode, view, analyze, restore, enhance, write and present….You can even capture, redact & convert…… all from the same application.
If you want to learn more, just ask!