Digital devices such as smart doorbells, dashboard recordings, car GPS systems, and even Amazon Alexa are increasingly providing more evidence in criminal trials in Britain, said a prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on Monday.
The CPS representing India in an extradition case recently viewed video footage of the Arthur Road prison in Mumbai, where those wanted by India will be brought forward, while witnesses from India have been digitally removed via video link.
Max Hill, director of public prosecution, said developments in digital technology are driving significant changes in the way evidence is collected and used in British courts.
He said: “At least 15 years ago, subsequent criminal investigations and prosecutions would likely have focused on crime scenes for evidence supported by eyewitness testimony and door-to-door inquiries.”
“This has changed the way we now live our lives and share information online. Digital devices that are part of the fabric of everyday life, such as smartphones, social media, and even things like Alexa can actively provide key evidence to pinpoint whereabouts, provide snapshots of incidents or timelines ”.
“Alexa has been used as a line of investigation in murder cases in the US. The opportunities and threats presented by the digital age are a growing challenge for all parts of the criminal justice system, as well as for society at large, “he told the Westminster Policy Forum.
He cites an example of how the GPS system on Land Rover Discovery was instrumental in providing evidence during the crossbow murder case earlier this year. After the death, the defendant was questioned about possession of the bow, but only two weeks later when the GPS system was retrieved from a colleague’s burning vehicle, vital evidence was found.
Information on hold by Jaguar Land Rover proves that the car had been used for reconnaissance because it was tracked into the victim’s driveway the night before the murder. It also indicated that the car had traveled to the scene again the following night and lasted up to 12 minutes after the victim was shot.
The system indicates that the boot is opened and closed when the car arrives and before leaving. Perpetrators were convicted and received life sentences.
Hill added: “The detectives of the past could only dream of modern opportunities to gather and disseminate evidence. But it is also an unprecedented challenge of evidence. Just as technology changes the nature of crime, technological innovation will change investigations ”.
“Machine learning and artificial intelligence are being developed to be more effective and reliable at filtering out large amounts of data … This is a fast-moving landscape and we will not and must not stand still.”
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