New software views crime scenes differently

Essex Police investigations will benefit from a new software system purchased by the force for less than £10,000.

Jan 15, 2009
By Paul Jacques
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Essex Police investigations will benefit from a new software system purchased by the force for less than £10,000.

Essex is the first force in the UK to take delivery of CrimeSceneNet – a pioneering software package that pulls together and displays all the data connected with a crime scene into one place. This allows the police and other criminal justice agencies to plot forensic and other evidence accurately and to analyse it.

Any type or format of digital data – audio, visual or documentary – can be attached, along with panoramic, three-dimensional digital representations of real crime scenes.

Norman Eastbrook, head of imaging at Essex Police, said not only would investigators at major crime scenes benefit, CrimeSceneNet also had the potential to be used for security briefings, at Stansted airport, for crowd control at football grounds and at road crash scenes.

“It will benefit us at a lot of crime scenes as our photographers will be able to capture the images in 360 degree format,” said Mr Eastbrook.

“At major crimes, the senior investigating officer (SIO) will be able to brief his team immediately and they will be able to ‘walk through’ the entire crime scene, rather than waiting for still photographs.

“In fact, I hope it will do away with the need to video crime scenes – we can make use of the three-dimensional aspect of the system.

“And the software can be used to present the whole case in court – it’s a total presentation package.

“In the long run, it will save us, as a force, a lot of time and allow investigators ‘to get ahead’ in their investigations.”

Other criminal justice agencies can use it to share details and add information – the software can incorporate still photographs, 360 degree views, CCTV pictures, taped interviews, 999 calls, documents and even evidence such as fingerprints and DNA.

Andrew Baddeley, managing director of supplier 360 Tactical VR, specialists in 360 immersive imaging solutions, explained: “This application will prove to be a huge benefit for the photographic department at Essex Police and other law enforcement agencies, given the vast amounts of data they work with.

“It helps them to develop theories and scenarios for investigations in a fraction of the time they needed before.

“In addition, the software permits users to export data easily to DVDs and to make presentations for appearances in court, greatly speeding up the sharing of up-to-date information between police departments and with the judicial system.”

Because the information is multi-layered, it allows users to build information into data hotspots in the panoramic crime scene picture.

The only additional cost to the force has been the purchase of a conventional fish-eye lens for crime-scene cameras, which will enhance some of the pictures which need to be taken.

CrimeSceneNet – from Danish software development company Imasoft A/S, specialists in applications for police and intelligence agencies – was installed in-force last month and photographers are currently being trained in its use.

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