Scotland's 'CSI' turns to CGI

To meet an increasing demand from investigators and the courts the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA) is establishing a £100,000 dedicated national unit - the first of its kind in Scotland - which is set to revolutionise the way data and evidence relating to a crime can then be used to support a police investigation or improve its presentation in court. This new unit is to use CGI technology usually found in computer games and special effects movies to help recreate complex and serious crime scenes for juries.

The technology has already been used successfully by SPSA on an ad hoc basis in several high profile cases in recent years - including the murder of Moira Jones, and in the trials of Peter Tobin for the murders of Angelika Kluk and Vicki Hamilton.

Forensic animation and 3D reconstruction can be used to aid a jury in visualising hard to explain situations. It paints a picture based on the forensic evidence collected and can then be used to illustrate how a murder was committed, the movements of a suspect, where a body was dumped, or how vehicles might have collided. Scale 'virtual models' can even be created to show the location of evidence, bullet trajectories, deposition sites and much more.

Tom Nelson, Director SPSA Forensic Services said: "Exploiting new technology for the benefit of the criminal justice system is a fundamental part of an effective, modern forensic service. Through a variety of quality digital media, including interactive presentations and 3D reconstruction, the SPSA Forensic Multimedia Unit can present complex evidence types in a way that is clear, concise and easily understood.

"They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words and with this technology it really is. We can instantly transport detectives, lawyers, jurors and judges back to a crime scene, taking them on an interactive tour of the criminal investigation without a single person leaving their seat.

"Digital media provides real benefits and efficiencies for the court in terms of the very best presentation of evidence, as well as reducing the need for lengthy description and testimony in court.
"This is the first time that such a service has been integrated within the Scottish criminal justice system and I am delighted that SPSA has secured funding from the wider criminal justice community to provide it. I am confident that it will become an invaluable resource for both the police and the courts."

Frank Mulholland, Solicitor General added: "Multimedia technology is becoming invaluable in helping prosecutors to explain complex scientific or technical evidence. Using the latest forensic animations can allow the prosecutor to present evidence, or a witness to explain evidence, in a way that allows jurors to better understand the evidence. It can also be useful as a substitute for photographs, which are too distressing and horrific to show the jury.

"We welcome the launch of the SPSA's Forensic Multimedia Unit and look forward to continuing to work with their experts to give the best possible presentation of the prosecution case in court."

Andy Mason, Multimedia Technician SPSA Forensic Services said: "As forensic experts, we are often have to explain to people that our jobs are very different to the CSI programmes seen on TV. This technology actually does look like some of the images and techniques shown in the dramas, but it still takes a huge amount and time and effort to produce.

It doesn't happen at the touch of a button. But it does take a lot of guesswork out for the jury. It paints a clear picture. They don't have to imagine it, they don't have to guess it, and they don't have to piece it together. That can only be good for justice."

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