From Crime Scene to Courtroom: Digital Asset Management for Police
“A picture is worth a thousand words and this is especially true in crime scene photography." Photography has always played a crucial role in policing.
Crime-scene photography, or forensic photography, helps investigators to understand what a crime scene looked like even long after the crime was committed. It also acts as key evidence against criminals in a court of law, and can have a significant bearing on the decisions made by prosecutors and judges. With the development of technology, police forces are adopting new and improved tools; smartphones, high-end DSLR's, body-worn video, drones and more. The use of these tools results in a vast increase in digital content, which requires proper handling, storage and management - getting this right is just as important as recording the digital evidence from the scene.
FotoWare Digital Evidence Management helps the police to work more efficiently with their valuable digital assets and devote their time and effort to focusing on their main role: the safety of society!
Today, more than 80% of police forces - 35 out of 42 - in the UK benefit from the FotoWare solution. This Digital Evidence System is specifically packaged and licensed for police forces to easily acquire, build and grow digital evidence. Faisal Mahmood from Medialogix, a FotoWare partner in the UK, tells us how FotoWare Digital Asset Management solution aids officers.
1. Storing crime-related evidence in a secured central location
All the recordings related to policing, from office documents, fingerprints and footwear, to minute details of a crime scene taken by forensic photographers, need to be securely stored and protected. Security is an extremely crucial aspect of the law enforcement industry. It is also of grave importance to store all data in an agreed central location and ensure accessibility to various stakeholders including police, forensic scientists, profilers and super recognisers.
Faisal explains, “Generally the best usage of the FotoWare system in law enforcement I have seen is for the identification of suspects using super recognisers. Super recognisers are people with a unique talent to identify people and they use FotoWare as the main tool in their daily work.”
“We ensure the system is configured according to their security requirements so only those people who should see the assets actually see them. We work with their IT dept to ensure we meet their requirements.” adds Faisal.
Photo credit: @brisch27
2. When and where the crime happened: Tagging information with metadata
Most photos taken at crime scenes should never be deleted since missed important details can be backtracked by photos. They can also be used as a reference for related cases that may occur in the future.
Therefore, the amount of data is increasing exponentially over time, and each asset wouldn’t be able to play its role properly unless it is logged with accurate information - the time and location of the photo taken and a description of the depicted object. Digital photographs should include information about the camera itself, such as the camera maker, model, serial number, etc. All the related information should be tagged on each piece of collected data so that it can be retrieved and used whenever needed by whoever is seeking information.
Metadata fields in the FotoWare solution help officers reduce the time spent registering and managing digital evidence. Flexible permission settings allow them to restrict files relating to a particular case to specific groups or users as well as metadata criteria.
Besides, law enforcement agencies in the UK should adhere to the Management of Police Information (MoPI) guidelines. MoPI defines retention, review and disposal of police information in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the Law Enforcement Directive (LED). The FotoWare solution help police services comply with these regulations by enabling the officers to take full control of the assets.
3. Off to trial: Creating reports & documents, and submitting packages to the court
One of the important roles of law enforcement agencies is to produce a document when the case goes to court. Police officers write a report for every incident that they are involved in, and the evidence and related materials should be included. The FotoWare DEM solution significantly saves time spent on back-office tasks and improves productivity. Plugins for documentation tools such as MS Word or PowerPoint allow direct drag and drop of images, video and audio files into documents such as SFR (Streamlined Forensic Reporting).
Creating document packages and transmitting pieces of evidence to court are a lot easier and faster with the automated workflow options. Sharing of files can be triggered by setting up certain metadata to be submitted to Case Management Systems or other 3rd party systems, enabling judges to have evidence in hand at the earliest stages of a case. Since evidence instantaneously goes directly to the key players, cases can move faster than ever.
Photo credit: @kingschurchinternational
Based in the UK, Medialogix has been serving various customers since 2003. Medialogix especially has had a strong presence in the law enforcement industry with its own software products designed specifically for policing. Faisal Mahmood, the owner/director of Medialogix, was originally working in software development to integrate FotoWare into the existing systems. However, he is now more involved in the business development area, listening to what customers say and providing what they need.
“We are not just selling a product, but we are able to analyse business problems and provide the best solutions for them. We have consistently delivered and gained trust in the sector."