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Manchester Police trials devices to collect evidence of sexual offences


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Image source: Ihnatsyeva

Greater Manchester Police is trialling new technology to allow victims of domestic and sexual abuse to keep their mobile phones after reporting a crime.

Partially funded by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), it has purchased a number of Odyssey devices for specially trained officers and forensic experts to extract evidence of crime from mobile devices within a set time period.  

The technology is currently being trialled as a proof of concept in the Salford district and has been codenamed Operation Capture.

This provides a potential solution to an ongoing problem of police asking victims to hand over their mobile phones for the examination of personal data. This has persistently caused complaints and in May the Information Commissioner’s Office called on the criminal justice sector to immediately stop collecting “excessive” amounts of personal information from victims.

GMCA said the will be used in incidents involving victims and witnesses of domestic abuse, rape and sexual offences who may have evidence on their mobile devices which can be evidentially recovered at the scene and in the presence of the victim. It allows for only data relevant to the investigation to be downloaded.

Victim at heart

Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester for policing, crime, criminal justice and fire, Bev Hughes, said: “In Greater Manchester we want to move as quickly as possible to using technology that places a victim’s interests at the heart of the investigation. It is vital that people have confidence to report a crime to the police and feel safe after doing so.

“Odyssey also means only relevant data is extracted, removing concerns that anything unnecessary will be reviewed or used in the case. Feedback from the Crown Prosecution Service is that Odyssey can play a significant role in helping to make charging decisions.

“Odyssey is an example of how GMP is using innovative ways to support victims, and we are keen to explore other avenues of how technology can be used to better support and protect victims in the city-region.”

Greater Manchester Police and Blue Lights Digital – the provider of the Odyssey devices - are currently training over 50 officers who have expressed an interest in the project.

The further roll out of Operation Capture is expected to take place in the third quarter of this year.

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