Technology has revolutionised the way that we live in so many amazing ways. Home entertainment is completely different than it was some 50 years ago and even the way that we prepare meals has changed drastically. Computers have transformed the way that we do everyday tasks such as our grocery shopping, or even finding our way to a location in the car. Perhaps one of the most important influences technology has had is with the criminal justice system.
When you think about some of the most serious unsolved crimes in history, it makes you wonder whether the outcome would have been different, had modern day technology been available at the time. Aaron Kosminski was a key suspect at the time of the Jack the Ripper investigations but there was not enough evidence to convict him. Could technology have solved this notorious unsolved crime? Let’s look at some of the ways technology has been helping to monitor crime and develop the criminal justice system:
The use of CCTV has been increasingly effective in identifying criminals. With so many CCTV cameras placed in prime locations such as at a cash machine, or outside a bar/nightclub where crime has a high frequency of occurring, police have more evidence to identify criminals with. They can then share videos or still images of the perpetrators to see if members of the public can identify them on social media or websites.
Faster data analysis
Criminal record systems are much more advanced and can store a range of different types of information and people, allowing the system to be easily searched using maybe just an image of a tattoo, for example.
Predictive crime mapping
Sophisticated software systems are able to use past crime data to show a hotspot of where and when the next crime is going to happen. The predictive crime mapping software is being used by police departments across the UK where there are patterns of the same types of crime being committed, by the same people.
Social media monitoring
Police have turned to social media to try and identify criminals, creating fake Facebook accounts and befriending suspects so that they can spy on what they are up to and see if they slip up and give away a vital piece of evidence. They can also see links between suspects to help resolve crimes.
There is so much more that can be done to extract and identify DNA from a crime scene than before. Where DNA samples are degraded, it is now possible to use a DNA sequencer that is able to use key information to identify a suspect.
The use of magnetic fingerprinting dust and wand enables investigators to compare fingerprints without contaminating the evidence.
Online crime reporting
People can now report crimes online instead of going to a police station or calling the relevant number depending on the type of crime. This saves the time taken up by police resources to record the crime but ensures that it gets logged onto the system.
In some instances, police are utilising drones to monitor areas for crime prevention. Whereby historically, a police helicopter may have been required to take aerial video of an area at great cost, drones are able to take on some of this work instead.
Handheld fingerprint scanners
Police are now able to quickly take a fingerprint with portable, handheld technology to give them immediate access to data around previous convictions. This can save a lot of time and reduce the likelihood of wrongful arrests.