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“Promat stores 26,000 images of volunteers and can easily be integrated with other forces. The systems start-up cost is only a tiny proportion of what we currently spend every month on live parades! Once we built our database with PROMAT, the cost is nil.”
Inspector Barrie Thompson, ID Bureaux project manager

“Before Promat, A third of all parades were abandoned because of last-minute volunteer dropouts. Promat has doubled our number of identity parades and saved hours of police time for us – equivalent to 13 officers being put back to other duties. In our first year, we saved about £80,000 in fees!
West Midlands Police – Britain’s 2nd largest police force

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Devon and Cornwall Police internal publication - Promat

A successful first year using state-of-the-art technology has helped police in Devon and Cornwall to save time and more than double the number of identification parades. In April 2002 the Force installed new equipment in its four custody centre's to ensure the complicated process of holding ID procedures ran more smoothly. The new system, known as PROMAT, uses video images of volunteers collected from around the country. Currently the database holds more than 12,000 images accessible at the touch of a button.

A suspect is filmed while he or she is in custody. The footage of the suspect is mixed in with that of a number of volunteers from the database, and the compiled film is then shown to the witnesses. Before the arrival of PROMAT, officers would have to conduct expensive and time-consuming parades to identify suspects. They had to find volunteers who resembled a certain description and then pay them to attend the parade at a police station. One third of all ID parades were aborted at the last minute, usually because one of the parties couldn't attend.

This caused great inconvenience to all concerned, not least of all the witnesses. This year the number of parades held is expected to be around 1,500 - double that of last year. The Force has saved 2,970 days of police time previously spent organising parades, this equates to 13 officers being put back to other duties.

The money saved in volunteer fees in the first year alone is £80,000, more than covering the cost of the system. Torquay's Identification Inspector Rod Munro said that the first year using PROMAT had been incredibly successful with ID procedures now taking days to complete rather than weeks and sometimes months.

Holding ID parades used to be fraught with logistical problems, not least in finding suitable volunteers. With PROMAT they are there on tap, he said. Additionally, when the witness knows that the suspect is not in the room or the same building, this alleviates their anxiety and helps provide a more comfortable experience for the victim.

Surrey Police internal publication - PROMAT

Surrey Police is using new sophisticated technology in its fight against crime with the introduction of a video ID suite to replace the traditional line-up parade. Surrey has taken advantage of new legislation, which allows the police to use video ID parades as the primary means of identifying suspects. The recently purchased PROMAT system contains a database of over 15,000 individuals and compares suspect details with like images to produce a video ID parade in a matter of minutes.

Since the new ID Suite has been in Force-wide operation at Woking Police Station it has already had some positive results. On the first weekend it was running, a man was arrested for a series of burglaries, his image was shown to witnesses via a video ID parade, he was positively identified and charged and appeared in court on the following Monday. Inspector Geoff Phillips from the ID Parade Suite said:

"This new system has truly revolutionised the way we work in the ID Suite. We now offer a quick, efficient service with parades taking place soon after an incident occurs and while the image is still fresh in the witness memory. In the past, ID parades could take up to 2-3 months to organise, as each volunteer had to be contacted and screened for suitability. This long time delay made it very difficult for the witness to remember suspect details clearly".

Temporary Chief Inspector of the Criminal Justice Reform Programme, Paul Sacha commented: The PROMAT system has resulted in substantial cost savings for the Force. The total cost of the equipment, together with the refurbishment costs, at £30,000 will easily be recouped within a year. I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those people who have given up their time to volunteer for ID parades and in doing so have helped us bring more offenders to justice. We are not disbanding this method entirely as there will still be occasions when we need volunteers if we don't have people of a certain category contained within the database.

Other benefits of the new system:
  • Witnesses have said they feel far more comfortable with the new system of viewing suspects on a video screen rather than viewing a live ID parade, as it's less threatening.
  • If a witness is not able to come in to a police station to look at the images, for example, if they are housebound or in hospital, police officers can take the system to the witness via a laptop to view images.
  • The ID parade can take place at any time of day to suit the witness, it is not reliant of getting a group of volunteers together. Often, ID parades had to take place in the evening due to the work commitments of the volunteers.
  • Better use of manpower as fewer officers are required to run the ID parades, which means that resources can be deployed elsewhere.
  • Suspects can now have their image recorded while they are in custody so there is no need for them to return to the police station to take part in a parade.

The BBC - Jersey Police

Police say the new system will be fairer for victims and suspects.

Victims and witnesses of crime will not have to come face to face with suspects in ID parades thanks to a computer system now being used by Jersey police. A new video identity parade system uses a database of more than 26,000 images from around the British Isles.

It means suspects will have a digital photograph taken of them, which is then shown to the witness while mixed in with a line-up of seven other faces from the database. Police also say the new system should result in a fairer parade for suspects.

Inspector Jeremy Crow said it will make the process less daunting for victims of crime. He said: "I'm sure it will be of great advantage use to a witness or, in particular, a victim of crime in that they have no contact with a suspect at all. "At most, they are seeing a video image of that person and don't even have to be in the same room as them."

The Daily Telegraph - PROMAT

Traditional identity parades are to be phased out by Britain's second largest police force in favour of a digital video alternative. West Midlands Police aims to save hundreds of thousands of pounds each year by collating a database of "ordinary" people who can be used time and time again in a parade.

Traditional "line ups", which take up to two weeks to arrange and cost the force £600,000 a year, are to be replaced by a video system, called PROMAT. It will store footage of volunteers on a computer database and can compile separate images into a "seamless" ID line-up, viewed by a witness on a large video screen.

West Midlands police hope that the initiative will be able to be used for 70 per cent of identification parades by Christmas. Officers have begun approaching the public in shopping areas with a video booth, where volunteers are paid £10 to have their picture taken. This can then be used any number of times in the future to be scanned into a "parade"' with a picture of a suspect. Not only does it save money, it also removes the problem of getting a dozen volunteers for every line-up.

Insp Barrie Thompson, the ID Bureau project manager, said the digital profile matching system would store 26,000 images of volunteers and could be integrated with other forces. The system has a start-up cost of £30,000, a fraction of the bill West Midlands police currently spends every month on live parades. Insp Thompson said: "If you take away the cost of the rooms and the officers' wages, traditional line-ups can cost £200 each, but with PROMAT once we have built up our database the cost is nil."

Radio – JCF launches Video ID parades

The Jamaica Constabulary Force on Monday afternoon launched a new Video Identification system designed to speed up the holding of identification parades and protect witnesses. Head of the MIT, ACP Les Green said the new system, should improve the effectiveness and fairness of identification parades.

"It doesn't alter the basic principles for holding an identification parade, what it does is utilize technology and instead of having to organize a conventional line-up where we have to find the possible participants, what we have is those participants stored in a database so it's fairer for the suspect and its fairer for the witness and it should also speed up the process tremendously,"

"So instead of having to find persons of a similar appearance to a suspect whenever we find a suspect they should already be in the database and there would be some similarities that we can select and have an electronic parade," said ACP Green.

In a conventional identification parade, witnesses are asked to pick a suspect from a line of individuals. But under the new system the police will record images of the suspects as well as images of other people who look the same as the suspect. The witness then picks from that line-up of images on a computer.

According to the police, conventional identification parades have been tough, because they have trouble finding people to take part in the line ups. They say witnesses are also exposed when they go to police stations to identify suspects. The police say by using lap top computers they can go to witnesses instead of having them come to the stations.

Between March 25 and April 21 last year, two officers from the Metropolitan Police Service in the UK visited Jamaica and conducted training for six Police Sergeants. They in turn have so far trained over 157 key police personnel in the use of the PROMAT Video Identification system. Two stations, the Kingston Central and Linstead Police Stations have been equipped with the new system.

The BBC - Police use PROMAT video ID parades.

New technology has allowed Devon and Cornwall Police to double the number of identity parades carried out and has saved hours of police time. The new system, known as PROMAT, uses video film plus an image database. Officers used to have to find volunteers for identity parades.

Before its arrival officers had to find volunteers who resembled a certain description and pay them to attend. Now the police have a database which holds 26,000 video images of volunteers. The suspect is photographed while he or she is being held. The footage of the suspect is then mixed in with that of a number of volunteers and the film is shown to the witness.

Fees saved

  • Before its arrival, a third of all parades were abandoned at the last minute because of people dropping out.
  • Since being introduced, the new system has meant twice as many ID parades going ahead.
  • The force says police hours saved are the equivalent to 13 officers being put back to other duties. It has also saved about £80,000 in fees.
  • The new equipment has been installed at four custody centres around Devon and Cornwall.

The force said of its use of technology: "Devon and Cornwall Constabulary is an organisation driven by information and intelligence and we have invested considerably in the technology to manage this valuable resource. "Such technology has allowed the force to make significant long and short-term savings, by producing efficiency gains and releasing money to support front-line policing in local areas."

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