The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) oversees the police complaints system in England and Wales. They investigate the most serious matters, including deaths following police contact, and set the standards by which the police should handle complaints. They also use learning from their work to influence changes in policing. The IOPC is independent, and makes decisions entirely independently of the police and government.
An important aspect of the work of the IOPC is to make it as easy as possible for involved parties, specifically police forces, to share information and evidence with its investigators as quickly and efficiently as possible. The IOPC had been looking for better ways to handle the ever evolving and increasing demands of digital evidence management, with COVID-19 and remote working accelerating this need even more.
Keith Tagg, IOPC Delivery Manager, explains the challenge: “When we start an investigation, digital material and evidence needs to be transferred to the IOPC by forces. In the past we relied on discs, USBs or hand delivery. By introducing a Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS), we knew we could make it easier and quicker to share information with forces or other bodies. Not only would this take less time, it would be more secure and be of a high evidential standard.”
The IOPC spoke to a number of forces and bodies to inform their decisions and procurement. NICE Investigate was selected to provide DEMS following a robust procurement process.
One of the factors which led to the IOPC choosing NICE Investigate was the feedback from forces, and the ability to playback different formats of CCTV footage. Tagg added: “Not being able to watch CCTV footage because it isn’t in a playable format is a problem shared by police forces and the IOPC. It can prolong and impede the progress of our investigations and can be frustrating when a quick decision is needed for a referral or appeal.
“This issue was exacerbated during the pandemic when investigators working from home would need to travel to the office to watch the footage or request the footage be uploaded to the network. With DEMS any CCTV footage is automatically transcoded, so an investigator can instantly playback the footage with no delay.”
DEMS has also meant the IOPC is handling less physical material, which takes significant storage space and is less secure.
You can find more information about the IOPC and its work at www.policeconduct.gov.uk.