VR technology enables crime scene visits in court

A research team is developing sophisticated crime scene re-enactment technology for the criminal justice system.

From the Series

Crime scene

Researchers at Staffordshire University are working on a project that aims to introduce virtual reality (VR) technology into crime scene recordings and court prosecutions. Having secured a government grant of 182 000 euros, the research team in collaboration with the Staffordshire Police is working with digital recording and gaming technology to develop a virtual crime scene re-enactment system.

The team, made up of members from the archaeology, forensic and gaming departments at Staffordshire University, believes that VR technology could help improve the accuracy and time sensitivity of crime scene recordings, and provide a more effective means of presenting findings in court. In addition to this, drone technology would also be able to relieve police investigators from getting too close to hazardous areas or potentially dangerous situations.

Current methods of recording a crime scene involve sketching, documenting and photographing evidence and the area of investigation. Team leader, Doctor Caroline Sturdy Colls says that these possibly outdated methods “can be laborious and they do not provide data outputs suitable for presentation in court to non-experts”.

With the help of games design experts, the team are busy experimenting with 3D virtual re-enactments. Using VR motion capture headsets, members of the jury, judges or police investigators will be able to “visit” virtual crime scenes to examine detailed evidence in a case as if they were present at the actual site.

Getting members of the criminal justice system to adopt the new methods has also been met with scepticism as past experiences with technology in the court rooms has caused more trouble than help. That being said, the research team are working with the Ministry of Justice to ensure that its technology meets the intricate criteria for crime scene collection.