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Role of Technology in Criminal Investigation

Technology is used in all fields including commission of crime. When the crime can be done using technology, investigation can also be done with the help of technology. Use of technology in criminal investigation has it own merits and demerits. This article will provide an overview of how technology is used in criminal investigation, its role in law enforcement and challenges faced by using technology in criminal investigation.

Technology is a part of life in the modern era. In every instance including education, transportation, food delivery, payments of bills, shopping, working from home and many more are digitalized to make the process easy and hassle free. In this fast-moving technological world, it is of vital importance to make use of technology for the police in investigation and keeping in par with present situations. Crimes are also advanced and are happening in new forms such as data theft, hacking, cyberbullying, web spoofing, ransomware and many more.

Though there is inclusion of technology by police, it is important to get updated with new and latest technologies in order to manage complexities. Technology has helped in enhancing public safety, capturing criminals and saving lives, but there are chances of negative impact or failures in future as it must be updated with new technological advancements.

Role of technology in Law enforcement:

The Information and Communication technology has played an efficient role in law enforcement. ICT is a combined service of information technology and telecommunication which is used by the police to preserve, restore/retrieve and analyze data, including telecommunications like mobile phone and video conferencing.

The latest technology introduced in the crime departments, specially those situated in cities with large populations is that of crime mapping. The Delhi government has made an arrangement with ISRO for the commencement of new technology known as crime mapping analytics and predictive system (CMAPS)[1].

The police officials are provided with personal digital assistant, and it is connected with a storage processor which will store and preserve all the criminal data. Each emergency call is converted to a digital message by technology. It is also helpful in collecting accurate data from the crime scene. For example, technology can help in identifying the area where the rate of theft is high, and the information can be used by police to bring effective action in such areas to curb further theft cases.

MO SAATHI app was introduced by the Commissionerate of police in Odisha to protect women. The app helps to alert police when women are in danger and also in recording audio & video and sending it to police control room[2]. This technology has helped in saving women against crime and maintaining law & order.

Role of technology in criminal investigation

The implementation of strong and efficient tools of tracking system, software and technology has played a significant role in making a difference in criminal justice, from capturing criminals to improved public safety. Latest technologies used for criminal investigations are:
  • Monitoring systems- GPS is a navigation system that allows officers to find the location of criminals from a device. Helps in sting operations and better investigation of police. Drones provide an aerial view of a place or scene where police can observe it from a distance. License plate scanning is another monitoring system used in criminal investigation. It enables the police to know if the vehicle is stolen or a warrant is issued to the driver.
  • Surveillance cameras- CCTV is a widely used technology that records and stores events which is very useful for the police in investigation and arrest of suspects.
  • Extensive database- recorded data such as DNA, fingerprints, background information and others are used in criminal investigation to bring out evidence and identify crime trends.
  • Facial recognition software- this technology matches faces of humans from digital evidence against the database of faces. This is the fastest and most efficient way to verify data compared to others like retina or fingerprint scans.
  • Forensics- electronic evidence can be examined by digital forensics. Biometrics such as palm prints, iris recognition, fingerprints, etc. are used to match people with criminal history. Forensics includes various technologies to bring out accurate results which are very useful in internal investigation of criminal as well as civil matters.
  • Electronic identification- a person can be identified by the police easily through a mobile number, PAN, bank account number, driving license, etc.
  • Rapid identification system- these are databases designed to help investigating officers in speedy access to criminal history of Individuals with basic search functions.
Conducting surveillance is permitted only to government under specific conditions through the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885 provides for call interception and the Information Technology Act provides for data interception. Section 43 and 66 of the IT act prohibits hacking and theft of data. Only government agencies such as Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, Central Bureau of Direct Taxes, and Narcotics Control Bureau have the access to data stored by the Central Monitoring System.

Challenges of using technology in criminal investigation

Technology is used in criminal investigation, but there is no specific legislation to regulate and prescribe the procedure to the police for using the technology. It is also an expensive step as it needs to be updated every now and then.
  • Absence of proper data security law might lead to data breaches, use of data for terrorism or other illegal activities.
  • Remote areas may not have adequate internet to utilize the technology available.
  • Lack of training and failure to teach the effect of us technology in criminal investigation by the police reforms has created a large technological gap.
  • Budget is an important aspect to consider before incorporation of new equipment.
  • There are chances of using technology for political purposes by the ruling party inappropriately.
  • Lack of awareness among the public regarding the Law enforcement apps and portals.

The world today cannot be imagined without technology even for a single day. Even in criminal investigation it is a requirement by the police to incorporate new technologies. Technology has its own merits and challenges. It is also an expensive deal where one can benefit from it by using it properly otherwise it would lead to breach or misuse.

Conducting criminal investigation is done efficiently through technology, even though there are certain difficulties. Technology has digitalized data reducing manual labor and retrieve older files and criminal�s history. Criminal investigative process is more transparent in recent days and complaints can be handled rapidly, as the technology aids law enforcement. The key is to upgrade technology and use them properly with due care. 

  1. Delhi police to use space tech for crime control; the economic times
  2. MO SAATHI free android mobile app;

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