Wednesday 27 February 2008


Mistakes may be part of human nature, but they mustn't be at the expense of human lives

Here in the U.K., there has been much press and media coverage this week, over the conviction of Levi Bellfield, found guilty in the High Court of murdering two young women, and currently under suspicion for having committed further serious offences over a period of at least a decade.

On the website, an interesting article describes how mistakes were made in the investigations, amongst which, possibly vital CCTV recorded evidence was retrieved, but not reviewed by police at a time when it could possibly have helped towards tracking down the killer. 

It goes on to speculate that as a result of numerous operational mistakes made, the second victim was murdered, when the tragedy could conceivably have been prevented.

The loss of a young life is tragic under any circumstances, but when failings in the way in which essential CCTV recorded evidence is gathered, processed, reviewed and presented, has now become an almost routine problem both within the U.K.'s Criminal Justice System and increasingly similar institutions around the globe, it really is unacceptable for governments to allow the discipline of Forensic Surveillance (FS) to develop organically, rather than put in place robust mechanisms to design out many of the existing shortcomings.

The concept of specialising Forensic Surveillance perhaps along the lines of the way in which DNA evidence is currently utilised, has already been explored to some degree in the recently published National CCTV Strategy, and it would be much welcomed if some of the reports specific recommendations on this matter, were pursued with vigour.

Tragically, this situation is not without precedent, and if there were any possibility that useful lessons would be learned, ideally as a matter of priority, I for one would possibly sleep better in my bed. 

In all likelyhood, it's going to be a rough night .... and possibly with many more to come.

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