SmartFiles – ICT Innovation in Complex Criminal Investigations
The compilation of complex criminal investigation files presents a significant challenge to police investigators in distilling large quantities of investigative material into a meaningful blueprint to facilitate prosecutorial decision making. This paper highlights the potential value in using information and communications technology (ICT) to bundle together the raw materials of an investigation file including words, pictures and other media to present evidence to the first time user via multiple sensory modalities in a random access manner.In the research project underpinning this paper an extensive literature review was conducted along with qualitative interviews with experienced practitioners in the field. Proposals for innovation in complex criminal investigation files were developed and implemented using Action Research resulting in a SmartFile product characterised by dynamic interactive and navigational functionalities within a hypermedia environment. The innovative SmartFile was professionally reviewed and evaluated. Evaluations indicate considerable support for ICT led innovation of complex criminal investigation files. Such a step will improve the communication of evidential findings from complex criminal investigations to decision making authorities.This paper highlights the potential that exists to radically redesign, innovate and dramatically improve the complex investigation file product by implementing changes in work strategies and process design using ICT as a central lever. This will lead to process and operating efficiencies in the file compilation process and follow on efficiencies in the time required for prosecutorial decision making. The present study clearly identifies the value which the use of hypertext navigational linking adds to an executive summary of a complex criminal investigation file and how ICT led re-engineering of complex investigation files will facilitate in a value adding way the communications objective of the product.