Police scope central digital evidence store

Contract for new system signed with Unisys

New Zealand Police is considering an improved and centralised national storage repository for digital evidence.

As part of the process, Police will be looking at other similar systems around the world, including the New South Wales police force’s Shared Imagery Management System (SIMS), says National Forensic Services manager John Walker. A contract for this system was signed last month with Unisys.

SIMS was supplied by Unisys under a three-year contract. NSW is the first police force in Australia to use such a centralised repository.

“Digital imagery is pervasive in our society — from cameras in cellphones to closed circuit TV cameras — so we receive a large volume of imagery from the public,” as well as evidential photographs created by police themselves at a crime scene, says Ken Hughes of the NSW Police’s Operational Information Agency.

“Moving to a digital-based imagery management system will save critical time in the law enforcement process. Officers can check the quality of their photography before leaving crime scenes, with no need to process and print photographic film. In addition, they will be able to quickly search, retrieve and distribute filed images.”

New Zealand Police has already had preliminary discussions with Unisys regarding the NSW Police system and are awaiting information from NSW Police on that system, says Walker.

At the same time, Police is replacing the ageing VHS videotape recorders installed in police-station interview rooms nationwide with DVD recorders.

“The Investigative Interviewing Technology Implementation project to migrate the current VHS interview fleet to DVD is underway,” Walker says. “It was planned as a phased five-year implementation due to be completed by mid-2011.”

A good deal of evidence in New Zealand is already captured digitally, he says and there are no legal issues with its use.

“Digital material is retained under Australasian Digital Imaging Guidelines, so there is a master copy, that is a direct or binary copy of the original data recorded (sometimes referred to as original or primary copy), stored in a read only medium, that is non-rewritable CD or DVD.

No changes to the law will be required for DVD recording of evidential interviews, he says.

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