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SCIENCE
Science In Focus Special – Fighting Crime With Science
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Science In Focus Special:
Fighting Crime With Science

Outline

00.00–01.39 Introduction to the programme and opening titles – a drama scene in which a professor is shot dead. A murder has taken place and a major crime scene is established.

01.40–03.10 The Faraday Lecture begins on the set of this drama at Saddlers Wells Theatre, London. The two presenters Laura Grant and Chris Young take the parts of scene of crime officers and describe how the investigation begins to search and collect vital evidence to help to solve the crime.

Every crime event has a history and Laura and Chris demonstrate how scene of crime officers begin their work to reduce the risk of contaminating any evidence at the crime scene.

03.11–04.15 How fingerprints are collected from several different surfaces and entered into a national fingerprint database.

04.16–06.30 An introduction to DNA and its importance in providing evidence that can determine the person who has committed the murder - in this case a sample of human hair.

06.31–07.42 Analysing a hair sample at forensic laboratories and an explanation of how DNA provides genetic evidence that reliably identifies an individual – the chances of two people's DNA being repeated is one in 60 million.

07 43–09.48 How the sample of hair is prepared, analysed and a DNA profile of the suspect is established.

09.49–10.51 DNA provides the genetic information that gives the 'blueprint' of an individual but, at present, it is possible only to identify certain characteristics. Detection comes when the DNA collected is matched on a national DNA database. However, this database only contains DNA samples from people who have committed a crime.

10.52–13.27 Looking for other evidence at the crime scene – collecting a footprint mark using ELA (Electrostatic Lifting Apparatus).

13.28–14.04 Identifying a shoe from footprint markings.

14.05–15.00 The profile of the murderer is gradually building. A gun was used to kill the professor – gunshot residue from the shot will remain on the skin and clothing of the murderer.

15.01–17.09 Continuing the investigation by recognition – using VIPER (Video Identification Procedure Electronically Recorded). However, recognition on a human level is unreliable.

17.10–18.06 Law enforcement agencies worldwide are turning to using scientific techniques in developing facial recognition systems. A brief explanation is given of how facial recognition systems work – developed in more detail later.

18.07–19.49 Using PROFIT to create electronically a facial composite of a criminal from witness descriptions. These are difficult to create by an individual and research is underway to combine several descriptions by morphing the faces to create a combined facial image – this is called 'Evomorph'.

19.50–20.17 The autopsy report of the murdered professor is produced.

20.18–23.42 The importance of computers in piecing together evidence – the Force Linked Intelligence System (FLINTS) developed by the West Midlands Police. A group of suspects is created based on the evidence collected so far. FLINTS assembles a large amount of information onto one database and makes connections.

23.43–28.07 The evidence is beginning to come together but the investigation is extended further by using CCTV and ANPR technology (Automatic Number Plate Recognition). This is a method of finding a suspect through the number plates of cars – ANPR is used to identify wanted vehicles and a demonstration is shown. The importance of ANPR to the effectiveness of police patrol vehicles is emphasised.

28.08–31.04 Crime prevention is big business and crime costs an estimated £50 billion to the UK economy. Science and technology can play a huge part in helping crime prevention. An explanation of 'Biometrics' is given – measuring the iris in the eye for recognition purposes. Iris recognition is demonstrated as a security measure for gaining entry to secure buildings or rooms – personal identification.

31.05–33.41 Iris recognition cannot be used to identify people in crowds – a video of the full face is required to do this. Facial Recognition Techniques are explained further – creating a database of facial images using digital technology. Digital pictures of a face can be created from photographs and compared electronically. Thousands of images can be stored on the database.

33.42–34.06 Two boys, Oliver and Simon are identical twins and their faces are used to test the effectiveness of the system.

34.07–36.40 An explanation of the system is given and the shortcomings of video surveillance systems. Software programmes are being developed that will observe the images of large numbers of cameras 24 hours a day – demonstrations are shown of the effectiveness of this software for public safety purposes on the London Underground and in detecting unwanted packages left in the street.

36.41–37.36 Crime prevention using tagging – clothes, people, animals – and remote detonation devices as security on computers so disks can be destroyed if they are stolen or lost.

37.37–38.54 The murderer appears on the set and is identified and arrested.

38.55–end Credits

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Links

http://www.theiet.org/ The Institution of Engineering and Technology website contains information on engineering, supporting technology innovation to meet the needs of society.  Contains access to libraries for research, journals and publications.

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