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Video Evidence Analysis Programme Update

February 2008 Publication No. 07/08


DIGITAL IMAGING PROCEDURE The Digital Imaging Procedure is a guide for those practitioners within the Police and CJS who are involved with the capture, retrieval, storage or use of evidential digital images. It is focused around a flowchart that guides the reader through the process from the initial preparation and capture of images, through the transfer and designation of Master and Working Copies, to the presentation in court and finally the retention and disposal of exhibits.

Introduction Digital Imaging Procedure Test targets for CCTV systems Digital CCTV replay New projects

INTRODUCTION The profile of video and CCTV within law enforcement has never been higher. The Video Evidence Analysis (VEA) programme at HOSDB assists police in their use of video via the production of guidance and development work. It is steered in its work by a User Group consisting of representatives from UK police video units and chaired by DCC Graeme Gerrard of Cheshire Constabulary. This update provides information on the latest key developments in the work of the VEA team. Digital Imaging Procedure This new version of the Procedure maintains the overall structure of the original document, first published in 2002, but has been updated in two key respects. Firstly, it is recognised that there is now a broader range of technologies available for the capture and storage of digital imagery. For example, police are retrieving increasingly large volumes of video from digital CCTV systems on hard drives, which then must be stored appropriately. Secondly, an allowance has been made for the possibility that the Police may wish to store Master and Working Copy data on a secure server instead of physical WORM (write once, read many times) media such as CDs and DVDs. Server storage has many advantages, particularly with regard to long term storage. The data can be migrated automatically and with no loss within a RAID array, ensuring that the data is accessible, as compared with a CD or DVD where once it has been noticed that the media has failed it is often too late. However, careful thought should be given to the administration and maintenance issues surrounding the server-based storage of images.

Video Evidence Analysis Programme Update

Alongside the revised Digital Imaging Procedure, HOSDB have produced publication 53/07, Storage, Replay and Disposal of Digital Evidential Images, which covers aspects relating to the storage, replay and eventual disposal of evidential digital images generated by the police, or transferred to them from a third party. Both these documents in turn support the recently published NPIA ACPO (2007) Practice Advice on Police Use of Digital Images. TEST TARGETS FOR CCTV SYSTEMS
HOSDB has a long tradition of developing test targets for determining capabilities of CCTV systems. Use of the Rotakin test target, developed in the 1980s, has long been internationally recognised as a suitable method for assessing analogue recording systems. However, since the newer digital recording units work in such a different way, existing targets do not test them in an appropriate manner to allow accurate assessment.

Furthermore, the software supplied by manufacturers often offers poor functionality, may not replay the video properly, or may not be readily available. There is therefore a clear requirement for replay universal software that: accepts most formats offers standard functionality is easy to use displays metadata is not hardware specific Such software could be installed on police networks, allowing non-technical police officers quick access to basic replay facilities and consequently easing some of the pressure on video laboratories. To this end, the VEA team has drawn up a technical specification to reflect this requirement and distributed it to interested manufacturers. We are currently assessing products against this specification. The names of products that are deemed to have met the requirements will then be circulated to police forces and other interested parties. We will also purchase a number of copies of these products and provide them to interested police forces to use on a trial basis. NEW PROJECTS We have recently initiated two new projects in the area of video evidence. The first of these investigates methods for recovering data from damaged media and corrupted digital files. The second project will provide guidance to police on the best methods and technology to use when reviewing CCTV video within investigations.
WEBSITE http://scienceandresearch.homeoffice.gov.uk/hosdb/

Similar faces used in new test target Consequently, the VEA team are in the process of developing new targets for use with digital recording units. The central principle is to help the user assess whether the CCTV system is capable of capturing the important details within the scene. For example, if the user of the system wishes to identifying faces from recorded material, a target of two similar faces would be used and it would be determined whether they could then be distinguished. DIGITAL CCTV REPLAY The replay of digital CCTV material is a technical task that places huge demands on the resources of video laboratories. Since CCTV formats are proprietary to the manufacturer of the system, special software is usually required for replay. As most police officers only have access to force network systems that prevent installation of this software, it falls to video laboratories to provide resources for reviewing digital CCTV material.


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