Civil evidence gathering

FROM: David Griffin

What NEED does this meet?
Assisting the police in the expensive act of gathering evidence.

What is the APPROACH?
There's a database. You can enter details of incidents - on the web - on a toll free number where you use the keypad to enter postcoide and time data, and then record a voice message.

If you see anything that might be suspicious, you log it, with date/time and location. However tricial it may seem. Should the police subsequently be investigating an incident, they have a ready source of accurate (left at the time) statements that may be useful evidence.

Things you'd never think important enough to call the police about, but which may be relevant later after an event. It might be someone's erratic driving, or a strange car parked in your street, or a kid who seemed unhappy with the adult they were with.

As the system is unmanned, it can accept a huge amount of data with very little cost. So we get a vast searchable set of eyewitness statements that can be searched after an event by postcode and time for relevant info.

Voice recorded messages can be indexed using voice recognition software if the location and time slot come under scrutiny.

Cellphine companie swould be encouraged to offer connection to this for calling in at no charge, hence encouraging folk to use their phones if they saw something suspicious.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
Police will investigate crimes better

What is the COMPETITION?
Because it does not cost the police a lot to keep running but represents a huge resource of well searchable material.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Scalable, so can start in one area and grow. Issues are storage and bandwidth.

There can be many local nodes run by volunteers, which only need to link to the national computer for consolidation in master database on a weekly basis UNLESS there has been an incident. So it can be decentralised for normal day to day operations

November 1, 2003 in Crime, User Created Content | Permalink | Comments (3)

e-neighbourhood watch scheme

FROM: Paul Batley

What NEED does this meet?
Have a site where people can register say a mobile and the address and then anyone in the neighbourhood can login and warn their neighbour & the Police of any impending woodby criminal on the prowl..

What is the APPROACH?
Keep the login to a local level.. Say a village.. You could then set up an SMS service from the community website so people can contact neighbours etc in emergencies.. You could even have community messageboard & SMS Broadcasts about the community.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
Brings everyone online in your village or neighbourhood closer by making them more contactable...

What is the COMPETITION?
None that I'm aware of..

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Well.. I'm a programmer and I don't think the SMS services and server would be of a great expense.. Even get the likes of Blue Chip companies involved setting up equipment etc...

October 31, 2003 in Crime, SMS, User Created Content | Permalink | Comments (4)


FROM: Adrian

What NEED does this meet?

To demonstrate to the public the amount of CCTV in use. To allow the public to easily invoke their right (under the data protection act) to see CCTV camera footage. For the public to be able to find out who is watching them as they walk to work or go shopping. It may also be possible to get some information as to whether or not CCTV is effective in cutting crime.

What is the APPROACH?
By inviting members of the public armed with GPS (or able to use online mapping services to retrieve coordinates) we can map out CCTV locations within the UK and track who owns them by their Data Protection Act signs. Members of the public can input information about the people in control of CCTV systems to build up a picture of the organisations who are monitoring the public. The entries can be checked by a rating and peer review system.

By finding out who owns the cameras, one can invoke their right to retrieve video images from the cameras. Activists can use this to attempt to counteract the widescale surveillance techniques liberally employed by various organisations and act as a lobby group to have cameras removed.

Some cameras are placed "to monitor traffic", but are not limited as suggested in Government guidelines, but rather pointed away from the road in order to monitor passers by. The money wasted on these "traffic" cameras diverts cash away from repairing roads and funding schemes to reduce traffic such as tram systems and bus lanes.

Armed with the information of who operates a particular camera, one can quickly send letters to the Council to complain and use the service as a forum to put together flash mobs and then ask to see the footage - in order to really make a point - as the CCTV operator would then have to provide the information, but with all other faces blanked out, which is an expensive process.

The CCTV mapping information could be mapped against crime statistics from for example. This would show whether CCTV is generally employed in high crime areas to protect people from violent crime or if it is actually only employed to protect the assets of businesses.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
The current thinking by Councils is that CCTV reduces crime and the "fear of crime". CCTV is expensive to buy and operate. It requires local high bandwidth connections, often over optical fibre. I feel that the money would be better spent on improved street lighting, extra policing or community projects to attempt to solve the root causes of hooliganism and drug abuse. In addition, local councils could operate ISP's to provide low cost Internet access to the public over the fibre already in place via Wi-Fi points at the CCTV locations.

What is the COMPETITION?
There are no simliar services in the UK. A US project completed a map of CCTV over a small area of New York.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
The project will be community led so the information gathering would be cheap.

It's a simple database which MySQL could handle and the front end could be built using Perl or PHP, but the map data would be tricky to gather.

October 31, 2003 in Crime | Permalink | Comments (31)

Stolen Car Search

FROM: Iain Row

What NEED does this meet?
Stolen car information is recorded on the Police National Computer - let's build a website that makes that very same information publicly available, for free. It's such a simple idea, and yet it would be useful to millions of people!

The benefits work both ways - if you're looking to buy a car and it is flagged as stolen, you could easily report where the car can be found.

What is the APPROACH?
I don't know why the police haven't done this before now, but I'm guessing that it's down to a lack of manpower, know-how and coordination.

The key is probably lobbying at a government level to encourage the police to share this information, or rather, a subset of the information (to avoid privacy concerns). We get the info from them, and then the website makes simple requests to find out the status of a given registration.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
'Caveat Emptor' (let the buyer beware) is inshrined in UK law, so buyers have no comeback if they inadvertently buy a stolen vehicle. Making the information publicly searchable will help people to make an informed decision, make the trade in stolen cars more difficult, and may even help people recover their stolen property.

What is the COMPETITION?
Some companies (HPI, Carwatch) charge for running a full check, not just on whether it's stolen, but if it's been an insurance write-off, or clocked, or has outstanding finance. That's fine - they offer a useful, comprehensive service and guarantee their results.

However a simple, free search of the police's records is a good place to start and, at zero cost to the user, will surely be popular.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
It depends what is needed to get the information out of the police's computer. If it is stored in a proprietory format, some specialised coding will be required to expose it to the web page. Perhaps a web service could be implemented to ensure that only certain info can be extracted; we, via the website, provide it with a registration number, and it responds with either 'true' or 'false'.

Actually creating the public-facing site would be trivial.

I would estimate that the cost would fall somewhere between £10,000 and £50,000 - at the lower end if the data can be easily extracted, and at the higher end if hardcore programming is required to get at the data.

October 30, 2003 in Crime, Transport, User Created Content | Permalink | Comments (17)