It’s simple to see how data can be used within a healthcare setting to bring about improvements, and when used in retail and consumer-oriented businesses, rapid data processing provides rapid, actionable access to insights that can give organisations the edge over their competitors. However, have you ever considered how more efficient information processing can improve the justice system?
Whilst being the victim of a crime is a traumatic experience, witnessing a gruesome crime can be equally as traumatic.
Sadly, many victims of crime can be left without adequate justice and as such will have their share of mental scars, often long-lasting. For a fortunate majority, mental and physical scars can be healed with delicate and frequent attention; however if justice is to prevail, evidence is required, which may take the format of a witness statement.
This document contains a witness’s own account of an event, and is often the best form of evidence as it can back up the account given by the defendant or the plaintiff adding credibility to their story. Statements given must be as detailed and as accurate as possible as they may pull the case in favour of a party, having long lasting effects on an individual’s life. As the statement may be used in court as evidence, they must be signed by the person giving their account to verify the information called upon accurately reflects their account of a crime.
Data: The Law Enforcer
As you might expect, a witness statement contains highly important data. Although there are many structures to a statement, they are typically a few paragraphs long, or may take the form of answers to questions asked by the police. Occasionally statements are in audio or video format.
Once a statement is given, there is little or no processing of the document. The text is taken at face value and used in court as needed.
Although the human eye and mind is highly skilled, it may occasionally miss important details in texts and be unable to formulate common themes occurring. In addition, the handwriting on certain statements may be difficult to read and with such a delicate document, officers cannot compromise its contents.
At DCC, we believe effective automation of processing, management and visualisation of the data will allow better value gains from the statements in the form of increased accuracy, faster and more effective identification of key information and unique displays of that information that can facilitate better probing and questioning of statements. Here’s how:
Automation of data: Automating witness statements can facilitate a verification and quality check of the data. The process can identify illegibly written words, make sense of sentences that may be given by people whose first language is not English and include other validation checks too. Additionally, automated processing of statements could allow the creation of a digital copy with easily legible and searchable text, increasing the chance that all parties will be able to read statements in the same manner.
Analysis of data: If there a numerous witness statements to a certain crime, these can be analysed in different ways, once the data in the statements has been automated and verified. As explained in our article here, a scale of sentiment and emotion can be applicable to the statements to identify aspects such as:
– How strongly a witness feels the crime has been perpetrated by a given suspect(s)
– How the witness feels about the crime. For example, if a witness is in shock or fear, they may over-exaggerate their statement or it may be misleading.
– Clauses and relationships between words, and therefore between incidents and people. For example, a particular person may be linked to being present at a location at a particular time by multiple different witnesses that add credibility to that specific event within the incident.
– Other emotions, sentiments and common themes occurring are also identifiable.
Data analysis using tools such as common theming and repeated word counts could also help to identify recurring events and incidents.
Data Visualisation: Once processed and analysed, witness statements can then be viewed on a dashboard in the form of bar charts, graphs, word relationship clouds and heat maps. This allows better questions to be asked: “Why does the statement from witness A say something different to the statements of witnesses B, C and D?” Investigating officers are then able to probe on the differing level of sentiments felt within the same incident amongst witnesses, as well as discrepancies within differing statements completely.
A dashboard can also be used tabulate and report different statements of a crime. For example, witnesses can be placed separately on the dashboard by type of witness, such as character witness, eye witness, expert witness and so forth. Other variations can be made, such as the time each statement was taken. Certain statements may be taken on the day of the incident, with others on proceeding days. Identification of these differences on the dashboard can help to rank the likely accuracy of statements. In essence, statements can be organised and displayed in virtually any way possible.
DCC take pride in making life better for service users, be they patients at hospitals, students, residents, or even victims of terrible crimes.
We believe that automation in the analysis and representation of witness statements beyond what the human eye is capable of can bring to life important details and facts that may otherwise go unnoticed. Additionally, such automation could facilitate improved probing and question-asking, potentially leading to justice for victims, thereby allowing them to at least put the incident behind them and set themselves up on the road to recovery.
To find out more about how automated information processing could help to improve your projects, regardless of your industry, please get in touch with us today.
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