We’ve all seen police evidence being handled on programs like CSI, but the reality is more complex than the drama show implies. Evidence provides law enforcement agencies with the hard information they need to pursue justice. But tracking the chain-of-custody of thousands of items from crime scenes, through storage locations, to laboratories and court rooms and back, can be a monumental task requiring significant manual effort. However, with the advent of asset intelligence technology, evidence tracking is becoming more automated, efficient and secure.
Evidence and exhibit management: It’s complicated!
Evidence is any ‘thing’ collected at a scene that is potentially valuable for an investigation. This can include a wide-variety of items such as biological evidence, finger, hand, foot or tyre prints, trace evidence [e.g. fibres, soil, vegetation, glass fragments], digital evidence [e.g. computer files, mobile records, internet logs, emails], tool/tool mark evidence, and of course, drugs and firearms.
As soon as the item is identified it must be sealed, labelled and documented before it moves to another location. From there all items will have a lifecycle from identification and seizure, through storage and management and ultimate disposal. In addition, evidence types may also have different handling, storage or disposal instructions, actions/events and processes and workflows associated with them. During any of these processes, if the integrity of the item is in any way compromised, or if there is a breakdown in the process, it can influence court proceedings.
Tracking to prevent this is typically done the old fashioned way; with paper, pen and duplicated manual input. As a result the processes can be slow and resource-intensive and fraught with risk. Furthermore processes can vary from one department to another, even within the same agency. This disparity in standards can also impede compliance.
Bringing intelligent automation to evidence management
Asset intelligence technology like Relegen’s integrated software-tagging-mobile solution – assetDNA – can be put to work to create a centralised, agency-wide register, track chain of custody tracking digitally, and standardise exhibit management processes. Unlike other solutions, it is the software which enforces the unique identification of each exhibit, ensuring data integrity throughout its lifecycle, and enhancing traceability, visibility and security. From there, unique exhibit serial numbers can be written to and carried on exhibit tags using barcode, RFID, NFC or any other type of tagging technology as is appropriate for the exhibit. An exhibit and its components [e.g. a wallet and contents] can also be managed uniquely but still associated through parent/child relationships as well as associations with case numbers. Chain-of-custody tracking capabilities also extend to its mobile applications for evidence check-in, check-out, and transfer, including the ability to record witnesses and electronic signatures to verify events.
What are the benefits?
The benefits of bringing asset intelligence to exhibit management are numerous including:
Track chain of custody, and enhance traceability
- Identify, tag and manage evidence as unique using secure serialisation and tags
- Know what items you have, where they are, who has them – agency-wide
- Manage asset hierarchies, parent/child relationships [e.g. wallet and contents]
- Track chain-of-custody, issue and receipt and transfer
- Manage data across full exhibit lifecycle – identification, seizure, storage, custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposal
Improve safety and security, and risk and compliance
- Data-driven audit trails to prove evidential value and authenticity
- Minimise risk of contamination and tampering
- Control authorised access, commensurate with training and authority
- Display warnings, notes and alerts to enforce procedure, ensure safe-handling and security
- Meet exhibit documentation, lifecycle, workflow and policy requirements to demonstrate duty-of-care and compliance
- Capture authorisations and witnesses to support policy
- Meet handling, storage and disposal regulations
- Locate evidence faster
- Improve handling, automate manual processes
- Automate the collection of infield data using mobile apps
- Associate documentation for easier retrieval and completion
- Perform accurate audits and inventory checks faster
- Standardise and enforce procedures agency-wide
- Automate repeatable processes
- Replicate best practice
- Leverage insight into current operations
assetDNA was built to stringent [Defence-level] security standards, is proven, reliable and easy to use. The platform is compatible with any kind of asset label or tag or multiple tag types simultaneously. It can be integrated with internal information systems as required and will scale to manage any and all law enforcement agency assets such as vehicles, specialty equipment and armoury items. To learn more about the ways assetDNA can bring intelligence to your agency’s exhibit management processes, call us at +61 (0)2 9998 9000 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s talk.