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Fitness Watch Data Used To Disprove Rape Accusation

In what could be the first case of its kind, the data that is recorded by a fitness watch has been used to disprove accusations of rape levelled by a woman in America. While it certainly isn’t the first time that electronic data has been gathered, forensically analysed, and used in a case, it is the first time that physiological data gathered from this type of device has been used, and certainly in this type of case.

Fitness watches have become increasingly popular as a means of tracking workout and physical data. They can be used to record everything from GPS locations, in order to show walking or cycling routes, to pulse and heart rate levels. More recently, smartwatches have taken over the mantle, and these will presumably also carry considerably more data that might prove useful in similar circumstances in the future.

Mobile phone, laptop, and other computer data has long been analysed forensically in order to prove or disprove accusations and crimes. These devices contain a lot of communication data, and they can also be used to help develop a character portrait of a person, by showing what they do, the types of website they visit, how long they are online and more.

In the UK, police are encouraged to collect mobile phones following car accidents, so that they can use the data to determine whether a driver was on the phone or using their mobile phone at the time leading up to the accident. Even if call details have been deleted, forensic computer analysts can still determine whether the phone was being used, by querying local call towers and requesting details from mobile phone operators.

In the case in question, a woman claimed that she was staying in the spare room of her boss’s house when she was attacked by an unknown assailant, and taken to a nearby bathroom and raped. Her fitness watch, however, showed that she had been up and walking around all night and not asleep as she had previously stated. This, combined with other inconsistencies in her story, have led police to charge the woman.

Fingerprints Do Change But Not Enough To Beat Forensics

The important of fingerprints in police investigations and court cases cannot be overstated. Since they were first accepted as evidence in court in the 1920s, fingerprints have become vital to many cases, whether proving guilt or innocence, and recent news has even suggested that they can offer forensics teams more than this.

A new technology is being trialled in Yorkshire that can identify whether a person was in possession of any of a number of different types of drug by using a single fingerprint sample. However, since the first use of fingerprints in court, there have always been some questions raised over their efficacy, especially in the long-term.

One study, conducted by a team of computer experts, has put one question to rest, having shown that although fingerprints do change marginally over a period of time, these changes still fall within the accepted margin of error. Essentially, this means that fingerprints remain an essential forensic tool for investigators and for courts.

The study was conducted by professor of computer science and engineering at Michigan State University, Anil Jain, and former PhD student Soweon Yoon. They analysed more than 15,000 sets of prints taken from offenders that had been apprehended multiple times over a number of years and had a ten-finger sample taken each time. Samples must have been taken a minimum of five years apart, with some of the samples spanning 12 years.

The samples were then analysed, and it was determined that even with a 12 year gap, forensic testing identified the prints as matching. There were some minor changes, as a person’s prints evolved over time, but the primary markers did not change significantly enough to impact forensic findings.

The importance and significance of fingerprints and how they are used means that there will always be questions over the validity of their use, whether forensic fingerprinting is entirely reliable, and whether there should be better alternatives used in court cases viagra acheter. However, with each test and analysis that is levelled at this technique, the results have always shown fingerprints to be a reliable forensic tool.

Fingerprints Could Be Used for Drug Detection

Innovative technology being developed at Sheffield Hallam University could be used to help police detect when a suspect has handled drugs, even if they are no longer in possession of the drugs. The new technology can even help to determine the sex of a person as well as the presence of toiletries, caffeine, condom lubricants, and medications, potentially making it a very powerful forensics tool.

The technology itself isn’t new, with the system receiving funding from the Home Office since 2011 and is currently being trialled by the technology developers in conjunctions with West Yorkshire Police. Dr Simona Francese, who is the name behind the trial, has said that she hopes the technology will become a part of all future forensic investigations, and pointed out that it can be used in conjunction with existing tests.

Dr Francese and Sheffield Hallam University have published a paper following work with the Department of Fingerprint Research at the Netherlands Forensic Institute and the Home Office’s Centre for Applied Science and Technology. The paper has been published in the journal Scientific Reports and it extols the benefits of being able to detect whether a suspect has come into contact with any of a range of drugs by using just a single fingerprint.

Previously, police have had to have evidence of the existence or possession of drugs for a suspect, but by being able to test a fingerprint of the suspect, this will no longer be the case. A criminal profile will be created that can indicate everything from caffeine use to whether or not the suspect is on any medication, and even whether they have been using certain toiletries and cleaning products. The paper also points to the possibility of testing secretions from fingerprints to further aid forensic investigation.

The analysis can detect the presence of cocaine, cannabis, heroin, amphetamine, and a number of designer drugs, and it can be used alongside traditional tests and forensic analyses, which means that the technology has a much greater chance of being incorporated into investigations because it will not interfere with technologies and methods that detectives already use.

Dundee University To Offer Free Forensic Investigation Course

People that want to discover what it is like to be a forensics investigator can now sign up for a free online course that is being offered by Dundee University. The course is free to join, open to anybody that wishes to take part, and lasts for six weeks; during this time, participants will have to sift through evidence, uncover clues, and piece everything together to help determine what happened to a fictional body found on a hillside.

Dundee University has one of the leading forensic study centres in the country, and they not only work with police on forensic investigations, but they offer a number of courses that students can take if they wish to pursue a career within forensic sciences. The Massive Open Online Course that they are offering is meant to detail the kind of work that forensics experts do, presumably in a bid to try and encourage some participants to sign up with the university’s forensics programs prix viagra 25 milligrams.

The course is designed to be as realistic as possible, but the realism caused something of a controversy, when police were called by locals during the filming of the course content. People became concerned that police tape and people dressed in forensic suits were spotted in the local countryside, and some individuals posted details online.

Forensics investigation has become increasingly popular thanks to hit shows like CSI, although a number of experts have previously questioned the accuracy of that type of show. Investigators are rarely involved in the primary investigation of murders, concentrating their efforts on creating timelines, gathering clues, and providing the police and investigators with information and clues that they would then use to help solve cases and determine exactly what happened.

Forensics investigations may also be used in court, and some forensics experts are called to give evidence as expert witnesses. The MOOC course is the second that has been run by the university and it will launch in September and take six weeks to complete for those that do enrol. Once the course is completed, it will also be available for download for those that miss out or would rather complete it in their own time.

Hackers Put Child Abuse Images On Computers

Hacking attacks which lodge child abuse images and malware on a computer user’s hard drive are on the rise, it has been warned.

In its annual report, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) said there has been a significant increase in the number of legitimate websites being compromised.

First, the hackers infiltrate a site before planting the child abuse images and malware in folders on a hidden URL.

The folders are then inadvertently accessed by unsuspecting web surfers through a redirect link on a legitimate adult site.

When the link is clicked, the files are downloaded to the user’s computer le viagra 100.

It is thought the abuse images are bundled with the malware to discourage people from trying to get their computers repaired.

A spokesman for the IWF said people “panic” and are “fearful of reprisals”.

The report added: “The majority of the hacked websites are either UK-hosted or are those of UK small businesses.”

As a result, the number of pages found to be hosting child sex abuse images in the UK increased to 92 in 2013, from 73 in 2012.

Overall, the charity identified 13,182 web pages containing child sex abuse images in 2013 worldwide, following reports to its hotline.

It said more than 80% of the images were of victims aged 10 and under.

The full article can be read by clicking here – Hackers Put Child Abuse Images On Computers.

Paedophile Paranoia – Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

As a new recruit to the world of blogging (although I have been reading for many years) I’ve been waiting for something which I felt strongly enough about to post. One such story was recently sent to me by a good friend and fellow computer forensic investigator.

The story posted from the perspective of a Barrister’s wife, involves a 70 year old man charged with possession of Level 1 child pornography. Such is the stigma associated with offences of this type, it is hard for most people to consider that anyone charged could be innocent. The story goes on to detail the case far better than I can write and can be found here, in a fantastic blog which I am now avidly reading.

The “child pornography” it transpired was in fact innocent pictures of the defendants grandchildren playing  in the garden in the summer sun. I can imagine the descriptions that were put forward to the CPS, as I have had the misfortune to write them, and read them myself many times, over the 10 years or so I have worked in the field of Digital Forensics.

For those of you lucky enough not to have come across the levelling criteria for “child pornography  the levels range from 1 (least serious) to 5 (most serious), and are defined by the content and nature of the image or video. Level 1 is defined as “Images of erotic posing, with no sexual activity”. This level is, in my opinion, most open to miss-interpretation.  The current procedure for some Police Forces, is for a computer specialist to run automated process to identify and produce every live and deleted picture/video still recoverable on a computers hard drive, and provide these to the officer in the case to review and categorise. The reviewing officer may have never carried out this process before, and as such will just apply their own subjective view of whether a picture fits into one of the categories. My view, having worked on a large number of these cases over the years, is likely to be very different to that of a “man on the street”. I am sure that early in my career I categorised pictures as Level 1, which  I would now leave out, as the definition of erotic, is pretty subjective. I am still shocked by some of the images which I see put forward as specimen charges, which frequently include just head and shoulder pictures.

I have come across more than several cases similar in nature to the one described, and it does indeed make me concerned for the future quality of digital forensic investigations, and the outlook for the criminal justice system, should the proposed changes to the legal aid system come into effect.

Lawyers Working Longer, For Less

Recent figures released by the Trades Union Congress [“TUC”] have shown that last year 2 billion hours were worked essentially for free in overtime without pay prix viagra viagra.

The figures further revealed that just under 50% of lawyers and legal professionals worked unpaid overtime that averaged just under an extra 10 hours per week. At a time when some in administration point the finger at “fat cat lawyers”, the TUC stated that only managers of financial institutions and those working in education put in more unpaid hours that Solicitors and other legal professionals.

The TUC was keen to highlight a financial element to the statistic and stated that when taking the average lawyers salary into consideration, this meant a loss to that individuals earnings of around £13,921.44 per year.

This excessive overtime was down to a number of perceived factors, the TUC added. These factors were identified as excessive workloads and “presenteeism”, which is where workers come into work despite issues such as serious illness, as they fear that not doing so would damage their job security.

The General Secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady stated, “Where employees regularly have excessive workloads, business [solicitors firms] should be considering whether a few more members of staff might help make everyone less stressed and more productive.”

It was further stated that, “A long hours culture is bad for workers’ health and their family life – whether the hours are paid or not.”

In relation to those people paid by the public purse it was added, “This simply is not sustainable and the government cannot continue to expect more for less.”

Forensic Photography – A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

As we embark into what looks like a fresh round of proposed changes and cuts to the legal aid budget, all eyes are focussed on how to get the most from criminal case preparation whilst keeping the firm’s costs proportionate. Despite the current view of the administration, an effective and fair criminal justice system is an expensive thing and good legal teams cost money. You only have to ask someone who has been accused of a crime what difference a tenacious and dedicated lawyer can make to their case and well being achat en ligne viagra. The financial squeeze is well and truly on and whilst law firms are taking stock on staffing levels and work load, many are releasing the cost and time saving qualities of forensic photography within their practice budget.

The Power Of Forensic Photography

The old saying has always been that a picture is worth a thousand words and this has never been more true for the legal profession. As more and more criminal cases have evidence served in an electronic format and the inherent problem of  bottlenecks for disclosure, there is much more of an onus placed on the criminal defence solicitor in being pro active with the case at hand. In many cases before the court there are issues of location, area layout, situation of witnesses, view points and obstacles to line of sight that all have to be considered.

Effective Case Preparation

Taking effective and clear instructions from lay clients can be a difficult process which is further exacerbated if the circumstances are drawn out and complicated. By utilising a system of forensic photography and locus reports it can clear many matters up and give you a straight forward direction for case preparation and it’s eventual presentation before the court.

Forensic photography enables the effective preparation of cross examination for witnesses who were present at the scene. When the witness statements are read in conjunction with the photographs and locus report, any weaknesses in the eye witness evidence soon becomes apparent. By adding forensic photography and locus reports to any case preparation exercise it can both highlight strengths and weaknesses in the evidence and allows you to deal with “definites” as opposed to the “maybes”.

Making The Evidence Clear

Even for the most experienced Solicitor or Barrister, attempting to present a locus specific case to a Court by advocacy alone, can be a difficult affair. There is much that can be lost in the explanation and inferences which can be drawn by the Court. When cross examining eye witnesses to the incident, it is highly difficult to test the veracity of their evidence when no one has any visual evidence as to the specific location in question. Forensic photography can prove in a positive way, whether or not a witness could actually have seen what they said. It is of no surprise that witnesses can be genuinely mistaken when making their original witness statements. It is only when presented with good, clear and detailed forensic photographic evidence can their original interpretation of the incident be effectively challenged.

All cases turn on the credibility of the evidence heard before the Court. The benefit of forensic photography is that is can speak for itself. When presented with a detailed, well drafted locus report and clear photographs any witness is left with little room to manoeuvre should their evidence need to be challenged.

What To Do Now

Forensic Image are market leaders in providing forensic evidential services for the legal profession. They have a specialist team dedicated to forensic photography for both criminal and civil cases.

Contacting Forensic Image is easy. You can call their expert team on 01925 654 555 or click here to send them an email.