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Gloucestershire Business News

Gloucestershire police lands top award for evidence gathering

Gloucestershire Constabulary has won an international award for its work in developing new technology for victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

Project Odyssey was a Home Office-funded initiative, pioneered by the Gloucestershire force, and supported by the Police Digital Service, to create specially trained officers and forensic experts, to extract evidence of crime from mobile devices in a set time period.

It means victims will no longer have to give up their device for an unlimited period while it goes to a laboratory for all its contents to be downloaded - a process that can be particularly unsettling and invasive for a victim. Instead, it offers the chance for more careful consideration of potential evidence to support a victim's case.

The constabulary was recognised for Advancing the Field of Digital Investigations at this year's International Digital Investigation Awards. The competition focuses on innovation and is regarded as the only award that matters in the world of digital intelligence and investigation.

Richard Humphrey, governance and executive support function lead for the Home Office, Homeland Security Group, said: "The panel spent some time considering each nomination in detail and were enormously impressed by the standard of this year's nominations.

"All the nominations were outstanding and the winners should feel very proud that they have been selected."

Detective Superintendent Paul Keasey, Gloucestershire Constabulary's head of specialist operations, said: "Whilst it's great to win an award, the real value of Project Odyssey is that it enables specially trained officers to be able to collect relevant data at the scene of the alleged crime.

"It provides a potential solution to the ongoing problem of police asking victims to hand over their mobile phones for the examination of personal data at a time when they are at their most vulnerable. And it will give victims confidence that only evidence relating to the offence is being investigated."

Odyssey is used in incidents involving victims and witnesses of domestic abuse, stalking, coercive behaviour, rape and sexual offences, who may have evidence on their mobile devices, which can be recovered at the scene in the presence of the victim.

The process is called time slicing and enables investigators to search a device for relevant information within a specific window - ensuring nothing outside the investigation is captured.

Odyssey devices can extract data from smart devices, USBs, memory cards, dash cams, Apple and Android operating systems and can be tailored to the majority of incidents requiring a law enforcement response.

Chris Nelson, police and crime commissioner for Gloucestershire, said: "I have made tackling male violence against women and girls one of my top priorities. This ground-breaking initiative is all about using technology to empower vulnerable victims in their quest for justice and reduce their stress when supplying evidence.

"I hope it will soon be rolled out to every force in the country. The constabulary should feel extremely proud of their technical achievement, which has the potential for many more applications, here in the UK and around the world."

Image credit: Thousand Word Media

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