and Increased Officers’ Productivity
In this article, we’ll see how Avon and Somerset Police, part of the South West Police Forensics collaboration in the UK, solved the compliance challenges posed by the new code of conduct set by the Forensic Science Regulator (FSR) and ISO17025 with Amped Replay, shortening the time needed to investigate crimes by 2 to 4 weeks and allowing investigators to work independently in 60% of cases.
The Need to Work with Video Evidence at All Levels
CCTV and Video Surveillance Systems (VSS) record using countless different formats and variations. Most are not playable with standard software and even when they are, valuable information such as the date and time may fail to be displayed. Not being able to play or evaluate these video files promptly can mean the risk of losing vital intelligence and evidence. Just being able to play the video is not enough. Processing and conversion must be possible to allow the gathering of actionable information during investigations.
The UK national regulations that came into force in 2023 require much stricter compliance and quality processes for all kinds of forensic work, including video forensics. The Forensic Science Regulator (FSR) has defined different tasks and activities that should be conducted within forensic quality assurance frameworks. These are subject to the ISO 17025 standard.
However, certain activities can take place outside of the formal forensic process. For example, converting and performing basic processing of video files are out of the scope of ISO unless they serve as preliminary steps for further forensic science activities and are performed with validated tools.
In light of these changes and the ever-increasing operational needs, Avon and Somerset Police were looking for a solution that would fulfil the following requirements:
Make available the conversion and subsequent playback of proprietary CCTV/DVR video formats to the entire force
Make available basic processing functions on image and video evidence to the entire force
Ensure compliance by having these activities performed with validated tools that allowed them not to be considered “forensic activities” and thus outside of the scope of ISO
“The forensic science regulator has quite rightly taken a look at all forensic providers across the UK, whether they’re private or public, and is essentially telling those businesses that they need to start delivering a much better quality service. So with that came the implementation of ISO 17025 across forensic laboratories in the UK. Now, as part of that sort of ISO implementation, you’ve got some functions that have to be accredited, and then you’ve got other functions that don’t necessarily need to be accredited. [..] So what we needed was a system that would allow for the majority of people to be able to make use of it outside of the scope of ISO. […]It needed to be something that could be deployed across our force network and crucially, and […] it is needed to be a system that maintains the quality of evidence as we need it to be being in the middle of a forensic discipline.”
–David Matthews, Regional Forensic Video & Audio Manager, Avon and Somerset Police
There's a wonderful video that explains the police process when dealing with the CCTV evidence that they collect at this link