Kolkata: Way back in 1994, in a murder case in the Beadon Street area, the Kolkata Police for the first time presented the skeleton of the victim as evidence and experts from the Central Forensics laboratory in the city reconstructed the body from the bones. Based on the evidence, all the accused, barring one, were sentenced to death.
Since then, forensic science used to crack criminal cases has come a long way over the past 22 years, with the police now set to come up with their own mobile application that will help them trace history-sheeters within minutes.
Led by DC (south suburban) Santosh Pandey, a police team, along with dedicated IT and forensic experts, is behind the development of the app, likely to be called M-Watch or Mobile Watch. The application will be downloaded on the phones of all investigating officers in the city once its trial runs are completed.
So how does it work? According to Pandey, at present, any indication on an apparent feature of a suspect, such as a physical attribute or mannerism, that might be collected from the spot of the crime or the descriptions provided by victims have to be cross-checked with the central database at Lalbazar or the divisional headquarters to zero in on the accused.
“This invariably leads to a huge loss of time. For the new app, extensive information on men and women already arrested, including details of their physical appearances, languages spoken by them, their area of operation and even the manner in which they conducted themselves during a crime, will be regularly fed into the system. Subsequently, during the probe of a crime, based on a victim’s description of an accused, the investigating officer can log into the app with his own id and password and can immediately scan for all the possible suspects on his smartphone, the details of history-sheeters being already saved in a database on the app. The feature can also help victims identify the accused,” explained Pandey.
The search is so advanced that even a dialect picked up from a criminal or the description of his eyes will be enough for the exercise. “New criminals cannot be covered under this app, but it will be the most useful when it comes to tracing suspects with past records, It will also help solve street crimes, such as snatching, where immediate tracking of the accused becomes a prime concern,” said a source.
But, the police pointed out, for the app to succeed, it was important to feed in as much information on criminals’s background as possible. “We are trying to implement the app on a trial basis. We are also conducting test runs while trying to solve two robberies,” another officer said.
With more development, the police hope to introduce biometric features to the software that will throw up more conclusive results. In future, it promises even better things: To zero in on a fingerprint, the officer will just have to get the suspect place his or her fingertip on the small rectangular scanner and the software will do the work, by searching the national database for matches. In order to identify someone through the facial recognition software, the officer can take a photo of the person from a distance of 2-5 feet and the system will analyze roughly 130 distinguishing points on the face, such as the distance between the eyes and nose or the contour of the eye sockets, and scans the national database for matches.