Save time by using a Forensic Video Analyst
Is it worthwhile spending time reviewing CCTV evidence that may, if misunderstood, lead you down the wrong path? [Tweet this]
Hopefully your answer to that was no.
In the case of CCTV evidence it may prove a waste of time and effort to assume that the material disclosed is all of the material, is unbiased and in an appropriate format. You may also be missing an opportunity to examine all of the material.
A couple of short examples to illustrate why you might want to get a Forensic Video Analyst to review the CCTV evidence before you expend a lot of effort and possibly come to the wrong conclusion…..
‘Gesture’ by murder victim
A legal professional reviewed video evidence and thought that they could see the victim gesture towards the accused after the alleged assault which lead to his death. I won’t go into the relevance of the gesture but they repeatedly viewed the images provided to them and eventually became convinced of what they thought the images showed.
They came to us to clarify the images and to explore how they could easily show this ‘Gesture’ to the court.
Firstly the images that had been provided to them had been converted to the DVD video format so we requested a copy of the original digital CCTV. We then examined that and found that the recording only contained six images per second from the relevant camera. The individual was in the distance, it was night time although the street lamps were on and he was wearing a dark long sleeve top. Analysis of the CCTV images before and after the one image were the ‘Gesture’ was seen showed that there were dark areas in the background that made it appear that the person raised their arms in that single frame as they moved along the pavement and across the dark areas in the background.
The CCTV images did not provide any evidence to support the ‘Gesture’ but an awful lot of their time had been spent on it.
Friend reviews evidence of theft
Three years ago an employee was accused by their employers of theft, the company carried out their own investigation which included seizing the relevant images from the locations digital CCTV system. They then made a complaint to the police and provided them with their findings and the original CCTV exhibit, the person was arrested and subsequently charged. The prosecution served a disc containing the video evidence together with other papers supporting their case.
The accused appointed a solicitor and the case progressed, a friend of the accused agreed to assist them by analysing the material including the video evidence.
The friend set about examining the material in detail. The video material was on a DVD without a menu and the video played continuously, the video showed the accused at the location going about their daily routine moving from one camera view to another. But then he noticed that the sequence didn’t make sense, some time periods were missing, some images had a time stamp but some didn’t. He thought that there was something sinister going on. [Tweet this]
Through the solicitor a request was made to the court for the original CCTV. Having been told that the prosecution had already served everything they were eventually supplied with another DVD. This had a navigation menu and what appeared to be 12 separate clips of video. Again a lengthy examination of the discs contents were made and compared against the original disc.
It was discovered that some new material had been added but some images that existed on the fist disc were not on the second. The content of both discs appeared to the friend to have been edited to provide a skewed and biased record of events and that there was, he believed, a conspiracy between the employers and police to prove their case.
Many adjournments later and with a week to go to the next trial date we received a phone call from the friend. They asked if we could help to make sense of the material and provide a professional opinion on what had taken place.
Our expert CCTV analysis quickly identified that neither disc was a copy of the original material produced by the internal investigator although the police stated that they had not edited the content.
In reality both discs simply contained an edited version of the original recording converted to the DVD video format, albeit they were produced with a bias towards the prosecution’s case.
Any further attempt to analyse the content of the images should have been made against the original recording.
The accused, the friend and the legal professionals could have saved a lot of time/money by asking an expert to review the material at the outset. [Tweet this]