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Pioneering New Forensic System Helps CCTV Deliver Safer Streets

22 December 2015

Thanks to a Metropolitan Police collaboration with a small high-tech British company, 3rd Forensic Ltd, the CCTV cameras installed in and around London are now becoming an increasingly valuable crime-busting asset. In many other places, CCTV cameras, installed sometimes at great expense, simply stare blindly at the streets in front of them, with little impact on crime prevention or crime clear-up.  Potentially valuable CCTV evidence often goes under-utilised in many parts of the country.  Not so in London, where the cameras installed in streets, shops and public transport are now helping the police achieve hundreds of identifications, arrests and convictions every month.

For too many years CCTV evidence was the forensic “poor relation”, used only occasionally, without any of the thorough, systematic treatment applied to the older forensic disciplines of fingerprint and DNA.  All that changed when Scotland Yard got together with 3rd Forensic Ltd to develop the new cutting-edge “FILM” solution (Forensic Image Linking & Management), a revolutionary new tool that investigators in the Met have come to rely on and trust to help them identify suspects.  

According to Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville of the Met’s Central Forensic Image Team, the FILM solution”…has helped us to identify many hundreds of criminals and ensure that they were brought to justice. He describes the system as “the keystone in the Yard’s systematic use of CCTV.”

From the moment a crime suspect is “caught on camera”, FILM helps detectives track the case throughout its investigation.  The process includes automatic searching through a central database and also the scrutiny of images by the Met’s famed “Super Recogniser” officers; leading to identification, arrest and Court proceedings – ensuring that every opportunity is taken to bring offenders to justice and that CCTV evidence is properly gathered, used, recorded and controlled.

One recent example of the effectiveness of 3rd Forensic’s FILM system was the conviction of prolific thief, Peter Michael Hall.  On Wednesday 25th March 2015, Police attended a burglary at a company in Hanover Square, London.  CCTV revealed that the suspect had gained entry to the main door by “tailgating” one of the cleaning staff.  He then forced an office lock and helped himself to laptops, computers and other property, worth thousands of pounds.  In addition to the property loss, the business also suffered from the critical loss of important data on the stolen computers.

CCTV images of the suspect were quickly processed through the FILM system, where a further four other burglaries were identified in which the same suspect seemed to have been involved.  The FILM system then quickly produced and circulated suspect images to officers for identification, and these were recognized by PC Dale Nufer, one of Scotland Yard’s top Super Recognisers, a man with long experience of service in London and a fantastic knowledge of central London criminals

The information was immediately forwarded to CID officers (in the same way as fingerprint and DNA identification reports are handled) and they investigated and subsequently arrested Hall, charging him with all five burglaries.  He was remanded in custody and on 24th September at Southwark Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to all charges, receiving a total of 40 months imprisonment.

This is one of many hundreds of cases tracked by the Metropolitan Police, using the FILM solution.   The Met reports that these successes have led to more offenders entering pleas at Court of “guilty” when faced with the CCTV evidence.  FILM-processed cases have an 84% guilty plea rate; much higher than the average number of only 63% for all cases heard in the London courts.  This greatly reduces the time officers need to spend at court, reducing costs and freeing them up for more time on the front line.  It is also usually much better for the victims of crime, saving them the added inconvenience and stress of having to appear in Court themselves.  London’s CCTV cameras are certainly beginning to earn their place in the fight against crime!

Jim McBrierty, 3rd Forensic Divisional Director for Crime and National Security, himself a retired police officer, welcoming the Hall conviction, explained

“We’re particularly proud of the way that FILM helps the police to track down prolific offenders like this.  One identification of this kind deals with four or five offences and has a big impact on crime prevention.”

For more information on the FILM solution, please contact  Jim McBrierty

3rd Forensic Press Release 22.12.2015

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