Police eye tech for reporting live crimes via video

Police are looking into technology that will allow witnesses to report criminal activity simply by uploading videos taken from their mobile phones
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

In the future, witnesses to crimes may simply be able to report wrongdoing by uploading videos taken from their mobile phones.

According to Ian Readhead, director of information for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), the technology to allow such reporting is already being looked at by the force.

"In future it is not bizarre to think that people will not just contact the police to say there is a robbery happening but will say 'Can I send you through the video?'," he said at the recent launch of the Unisys Security Index.

"It is not unreasonable to think that the service will change its capabilities to receive this sort of information from the public. That is the sort of tech developments that the service is looking at and considering how we would make those investments," he told ZDNet UK's sister site, silicon.com.

According to Acpo, police now routinely check YouTube to gather evidence during criminal investigations. "Certain criminal activity can now be posted on YouTube far quicker than we would find it ourselves," Readhead said.

"We have staff search YouTube for evidence of incidents. That could be inappropriate activity by police officers or criminal activity. It is just another way of detecting evidence of crimes."

There have already been UK motorists convicted of dangerous driving after posting footage of themselves breaking the speed limit on YouTube.

Readhead added that police forces are also experimenting with image-recognition technology that gives officers the ability to scour through hours of video captured on CCTV systems and quickly pick out suspect objects or vehicles.

"For example, say we were looking for a white transit van on the M1 between 6am and 3pm. If we had to view all the video to find that van it would take us hours to find," he said.

"If we know that the van is white and its other distinguishing features then there is tech that will search through the footage of every van of this type."

Readhead said the use of image-recognition technologies by police is still in its early stages, but predicted their use will increase among forces.

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