Growing digital evidence stretched Merseyside Police investigators to the limit. Investigators logged onto many systems to collect evidence and wasted time on manual processes. 90% of digital evidence couldn’t be accessed in a timely manner, causing unnecessary costs, time delays and frustrations.
NICE Investigate automated digital evidence collection, analysis and sharing to enhance case solvability and transform Merseyside Police investigators into more efficient and effective crime-solvers.
About Merseyside Police
Steeped in history, Merseyside Police’s roots in policing date back to 1835 when the Liverpool Watch Committee formed the first Borough Police Force. In 1974, Merseyside’s modern-day police force emerged with the formation of the Merseyside County Council. Today’s Force is split into five Local Policing Areas based in Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Liverpool.
Together, these Local Policing Areas, consisting of police officers, support staff and criminal investigators, put communities first in everything they do, and provide excellent policing service to a population of around 1.5 million people, covering a 647-square kilometer area.
Beyond its proud history, Merseyside Police, the fifth largest police force in the UK, is also leading the modern policing revolution though its deployment of innovative new technologies.
Ensuring a safe community and supporting victims of crimes are core missions of Merseyside Police. But as digital evidence continued to grow, Merseyside Police’s investigative resources were stretched to the limit. Investigators would often have to log into a number of systems to collect evidence and manually search for connections in cases using nothing more than their ingenuity. They would often waste even more time emailing, phoning, filling out request forms, waiting for analysis results, and driving from location to location.
90% of digital evidence needed for investigations couldn’t be accessed in a timely manner, causing unnecessary costs, time delays and frustrations.
In fact 90% of digital evidence needed for investigations couldn’t be accessed in a timely manner, causing unnecessary costs, time delays and frustrations. Imagine waiting weeks to get a copy of a recorded 999 call, waiting months for an imaging unit to turn around requests for photographs or CCTV footage, and having to log on to a dozen different systems just to pull other evidence needed. These are issues familiar to all police forces and problems that Merseyside Police investigators faced every day.
Evidence sharing was equally difficult. Like most police forces, Merseyside Police resorted to copying and sharing evidence on CDs. As forces in the UK move toward digitising information sharing between the police, CPS and the court system, Merseyside Police realised it needed a better way.
Merseyside Police found a solution to all of these challenges and more in NICE Investigate. Running on the Microsoft Azure cloud, NICE Investigate is a comprehensive, scalable, cloud-based, end-to-end solution for managing investigations and digital evidence. NICE Investigate automates digital evidence collection, analysis and sharing to enhance case solvability and transform investigators into more efficient and effective crime-solvers.
Merseyside Police has rolled out NICE Investigate to just under 6,000 registered users. Since its initial deployment, NICE Investigate has ingested over 500,000 cases and 4.6 million searchable evidence items, matching 1.6 million of those evidence items to active cases. Even more impressive, the system had managed to unearth evidence in cases that wasn’t previously found.
Investigators come on to their shift, log in and straight away they can see all of their active cases, they see all the details of their active cases, and all of the associated digital evidence.”
User at Merseyside Police
NICE Investigate is a one-stop shop for gathering evidence. It collapses all of Merseyside Police’s digital evidence silos into a single logon, so investigators can collect all of their evidence through one easy-to-use interface, rather than having to log into each system individually. A ‘Google-type’ search enables investigators to search for evidence across all connected data sources, including RMS, Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD), body-worn video, NICE Inform (for 999 recordings), interview room recordings, crime scene pictures and more. The system even looks for hidden connections and recommends evidence to investigators. “Investigators come on to their shift, log in and straight away they can see all of their active cases, they see all the details of their active cases, and all of the associated digital evidence,” explained one user.
NICE Investigate automatically correlates and pulls relevant emergency (999) calls and body-worn video into cases, eliminating long wait times for evidence, and hours wasted phoning, emailing and filling out forms. This occurs without the need for user entered metadata which is often not available at the time of upload to Force systems, making such evidence particularly hard to find manually.
Investigators no longer need to physically request recordings, which can save weeks of waiting. In fact, authorised NICE Investigate users can instantly access body-worn video footage, 999 call recordings, crime scene investigation images and digital interview recordings, all linked to incidents in the NicheRMS system. This has been especially helpful in domestic violence cases where body-worn video and 999 recordings are crucial to assembling the picture of what happened. Previously it could take up to 24 hours to request and receive video and audio recordings. During that time, an offender could have been released.
We were the first force in the country to have this digital evidence management system and we continue to innovate. It’s just one more way we are putting our communities first. We can now do far more in less time and our investigators have faster access to evidence which means cases can be resolved successfully and sooner.”
Detective Superintendent and Head of Investigations at Merseyside Police
Having access to this evidence while the offender is in custody, and being able to replay it during an interview, can significantly enhance the investigator’s ability to obtain a charging decision (before the defendant has an opportunity to sway a victim).
Investigate can also convert proprietary video into a standard format for viewing, and enables investigators to visualise evidence in meaningful ways, for example on maps or timelines. Finally, NICE Investigate’s virtual case folders simplify evidence sharing by providing a secure and auditable electronic way for investigators to share digital case files and evidence with other investigators, supervisors, and the CPS.
When it comes to applying innovative technology to solve digital evidence challenges, Merseyside Police is certainly leading the way. “We were the first force in the country to have this digital evidence management system and we continue to innovate,” said the Detective Superintendent and Head of Investigations at Merseyside Police. “It’s just one more way we are putting our communities first. We can now do far more in less time and our investigators have faster access to evidence which means cases can be resolved successfully and sooner.”
Merseyside Police is looking forward to rolling out the next phase of NICE Investigate which will feature the addition of a public portal. This will enable Merseyside Police investigators to collaborate directly with members of the public, registered users in local authorities and businesses to secure CCTV footage electronically through the NICE Investigate public portal, instead of requiring officers to physically travel from location to location. Members of the public will also be able to upload digital evidence (from their personal CCTV systems, digital cameras, and smartphones) in response to public appeals.
About NICE Public Safety
With over 3000 customers and 30 years’ experience, NICE’s solutions deliver digital transformation, improved collaboration, efficiency and cost-savings to all types of public safety and criminal justice agencies, from emergency communications centres and police forces, to prosecutors, defence solicitors and courts.
Our Evidencentral platform (which includes NICE Inform, NICE Investigate and NICE Justice) features an ecosystem of integrated technologies that bring data together to improve incident response, accelerate investigations, streamline evidence disclosure, enhance digital collaboration with justice partners, and keep communities and citizens safer.
To find out more visit www.nicepublicsafety.com