Presentation on Video Evidence Principles at the European Parliament
Images and videos are among the most significant forms of evidence used to solve crimes. However, the challenges that surround video evidence are often overlooked or not fully understood during investigations. To promote greater awareness among practitioners and institutions on this vital topic, Martino Jerian - CEO and Founder of Amped Software - has meticulously crafted a comprehensive document titled: “Essential Concepts and Principles for the Use of Video Evidence for Public Safety and Criminal Justice”.
On May 24, 2023, Martino Jerian had the privilege of organizing a meeting at the European Parliament where he presented the video evidence principles. This informative session was aimed at fostering discussion on the proper use of images and videos to improve public safety and criminal justice.
Everybody is a stakeholder
When Martino Jerian founded Amped Software, he directed his focus toward a very high knowledge user base: the forensic video analyst, whose primary responsibility is to deal technically with images and videos during investigations and in court. During the development of Amped FIVE, he had this specific target audience in mind. Together with the software, Amped designed training that - while appropriate for users with a wide range of skill levels - aimed at educating the more specialized users on video evidence.
In contrast, Amped Replay is a product that requires no prior training for usage. Nonetheless, Amped has thoughtfully paired it with an instructional course titled Investigating Video Evidence. This course serves to impart critical knowledge to non-technical users and investigators regarding the key aspects to consider when working with video evidence.
The dissimilarity between the typical user of Amped FIVE (hereinafter referred to as "the analyst") and the typical user of Amped Replay (hereinafter referred to as "the investigator") is intriguing. Both professionals work with identical footage, encountering comparable issues, but their focus diverges. The analyst exhibits profound technical proficiency and dedicates significant time to specific cases. Conversely, the investigator must handle video alongside several other disparate activities, often on the field. They both need to resolve issues quickly, many times without much technical preparation. For this reason, it is imperative to differentiate tasks suitable for investigators from those which ought to be escalated to analysts. This motivated Amped to launch the integration between Amped FIVE and Amped Replay earlier this year.
As Amped was expanding its user base and training to a more extensive pool of investigators and law enforcement personnel on the challenges posed by image and video evidence, Martino came to the realization that this wasn’t enough. The criminal justice system is comprised of a much larger number of stakeholders, including judges, attorneys, prosecutors, journalists, juries, law enforcement chiefs and each member of society.
The need to work with science
A number of scientific studies clearly show that image and video evidence is more often available and more effective than any other kind of digital or physical evidence.
Despite this, the general public may perceive understanding the facts of such evidence as "simple". The question then arises: why require expert personnel and tools when anyone can view a video with their own eyes and enhance a dark picture on their mobile phone?
However, because of technological constraints and mental shortcuts our brains take while viewing the footage, one can easily underestimate the complexity of the evidence at hand. Such underestimation can lead to misguided investigations or wrongful convictions.
The first step then is to raise awareness. Prior to the resolution of a dilemma, individuals must acknowledge its existence.
In general, image and video evidence should be treated as any other scientific forensic discipline. This entails following guidelines and practices that allow an accurate, repeatable and reproducible workflow. There are excellent quality guidelines from distinguished institutions such as ENFSI, SWGDE, OSAC and the UK FSR. These should be more widely adopted, followed and further developed.
Video Evidence Principles
One year ago, Martino Jerian arranged a meeting at the European Parliament, entitled “Video Evidence: do not take it for granted”.
The meeting aimed to share knowledge and best practices to help institutions and organizations shape a new European debate, on the power, but also on the challenges that video evidence poses during investigations and its proper use to grant both security and justice.
The presentation sparked significant interest and engagement.
Following a considerable amount of effort, with the contribution of numerous colleagues and industry experts who reviewed and provided feedback on the paper, Martino has successfully completed a document entitled "Essential Concepts and Principles for the Use of Video Evidence for Public Safety and Criminal Justice" (please click on the hyperlink to access the document).
This document outlines his extensive professional experience and unwavering commitment to the video forensics industry spanning over 15 years. He believes that the document will bring significant benefits to our society. However, it is imperative to note that this is merely an initial stride towards improving the recognition and foundations of our industry, particularly for those who are not intimately familiar with its intricacies but nonetheless hold a stake in it.
To publicly present the aforementioned document, Martino Jerian arranged a meeting at the European Parliament on May 24th, 2023. On this occasion, a high-level roundtable was gathered with the objective of fostering discussion on the topic. The attendees engaged in a multitude of captivating discussions, extending well beyond the allotted meeting time.
The document is divided into two sections. The initial section is specifically directed toward policymakers and all stakeholders of the public safety and justice system. This part raises awareness over some very high-level concepts that they should take into account when dealing with cases involving image and video evidence. The second section is intended for practitioners, including investigators and analysts, who specialize in the discipline of image and video forensics. This part comprises the actual principles that are crucial for their field of work.
It is worth noting that these principles should not be considered a replacement for the above-mentioned guidelines, already written and approved by the industry, or for organizational-specific SOPs (standard operating procedures). The principles cover topics from a much higher level. They should be viewed as an overview, a first step to getting into the more specific and already existing documents.
Feel free to disseminate and share this document as much as possible. If you have any comments or suggestions regarding the document, please do not hesitate to contact Martino Jerian directly.