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East Midlands polices forces are first to digitise fingerprints

Witness thumbprintThree police forces in the East Midlands – Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire – will be the first in England and Wales to have all their paper fingerprint records entirely digitised.

The three forces formed the East Midlands Special Operations Unit-Forensic Services in 2012. They will hand 500,000 records dating back to 1999 over to Northgate Public Services, a specialist provider of software and services to the police.

The prints will be scanned by Northgate, catalogued instantly using unique reference numbers and stored in encrypted files on a secure EMSOU-FS server. The fingerprint images will be saved as Jpeg 2000 files at 300dpi, an acceptable quality resolution for submission as evidence in court.  The paper copies will then be destroyed.

Prior to 1999, all fingerprint records were sent to Scotland Yard for storage. Since then forces have held their own records. However, the amalgamation of the three forces’ files last year has put pressures upon available storage space at the Regional Identification Bureau at Nottinghamshire Police’s Sherwood Lodge HQ, not to mention generating a significant annual cost to store them.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 September 2013 08:56


Congress puts neuroimaging under the spotlight

Image of an FMRI scan of the brain for your Expert Witness storyJuly saw the Congress of the International Union of Physiological Sciences taking place in the UK. Organised by the Physiological Society one of the recurrent themes was the growing importance of neuroimaging, both in medicine and other areas, including crime detection. In particular, there was an emphasis on the ethical issues involved and the need for society at large to understand the issues.

One paper, The promises and perils of brain imaging technology: an ethical perspective, presented by Dr Laura Cabrera of the University of Basel, brought the issue to the fore directly, while other papers discussed the medical applications and even commercial aspects.

One speaker was Prof Hank Greely of Stanford Law School. His emphasis was on the dangers of neuroimaging being exploited in ways that society at large is unaware of.

Prof Greely addressed areas where the techniques would have applications in the assessment and allocation of responsibility, particularly in relation to criminal behaviour. The process is already being used in lie detection and could be used, the professor warned, to ‘treat’ what he described as non-disease behaviours, such as criminal activity.

Last Updated on Friday, 09 August 2013 17:18


Funding allows charity to take the online fight to child pornographers

help keyFor the first time, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) – the charity set up to protect children from online exploitation and combat internet child pornography – will begin to identify child abuse images on the internet. The new proactive stance has been made possible after internet service providers (ISPs) collectively provided £1m to tackle the problem. The move was announced by Culture Secretary Maria and reported in the online e-Government Newsletter.

The money came from Virgin Media, BSkyB, BT and TalkTalk, which all signed up to a zero tolerance pledge on child sexual abuse imagery.

Ms Miller said that action had only been taken by the IWF in the past when an image had been reported.

“Now, for the first time, the IWF has been asked to work alongside the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (Ceop) to search for illegal and abusive images and block them,” she said. “This will mean more images of child sexual abuse will be tracked down and acted against. The abuse of children is absolutely abhorrent – and that child is further violated every single time an image is circulated and viewed.

“The IWF and Ceop already do important and valuable work. This agreement will mean these organisations will no longer be limited to reacting to reports received. They will now have the remit and the resources to take the fight to the criminals perpetrating these vile acts.”

However, resources were not adequate to actually protect children, the former chief executive of Ceop warned. Jim Gamble told BBC Radio 4's PM programme that images were only the symptom and that it was wrong to suggest a child was safeguarded once an image had been removed.

Gamble said a child was not safeguarded until a police officer showed up at the door, arrested the predator in question and rescued the child from the “horror of this abuse”.

Both reports came as a summit between ISPs and the Government led to the companies being held to task for not doing enough to protect children.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 June 2013 16:48

New climate service launched by Met Office

The Met Office Climate Service logo for Your Expert itness storyThe Met Office has announced a new initiative to provide expert information on climate-related issues.

Climate Service UK was launched on 3 June with the aim of building on the Met Office's expanding knowledge of climate science, ever-improving climate forecasts, and growing understanding of how climate impacts society and the environment. It marks a step-change in the provision of services to assess how a changing climate might affect business and society.

At the launch, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: “Climate Service UK builds on a foundation of world-leading science and I’m sure will become an essential framework for advising on the risks and opportunities of a changing climate.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 June 2013 09:11


Police join forces with single firearms software package

Picture of armed police officer for your Expert Witness storyFour police forces in the North of England are collaborating in their firearms training and information by using a single IT system.

The three forces based in Yorkshire plus the Humberside force – together known as Yorkshire and the Humber – believe that the Chronicle system will enable all four forces to have real-time information about each other’s capabilities.

In a briefing issued on 1 May, Policing Yorkshire and the Humber said: “The procurement of Chronicle was deemed essential for the four forces to achieve a single regional Firearms License from the College of Policing. An interim License was issued on 1 April 2013 and will now enable further collaboration, specifically around standards, policy and training, between the four forces as well as improving professional governance of Firearms across the region.

“The four forces will now work together to maximise the opportunities that Chronicle will bring, such as sharing a common training and records system, delivering the same training to the same standards in all four forces and sharing a common deployment records system, which will allow for consistent reporting and produce more accurate data.”

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 17:11