Stephen Cole MoFSS, BAHID
Specialism: forensic biology: digital image forensic analysis, interactive multimedia presentations for the Courtroom
I worked for West Yorkshire Police Imaging Unit for 18 years as an Imaging Specialist. During this time I was responsible for the capture of photographic and video material and its transfer into storage. I was also responsible for examining this media, ensuring quality and where appropriate applying process with a full audit trail to ensure that only best quality was used for Police and Court purposes.
In 2000 I was involved on behalf of West Yorkshire Police in the formulation of a protocol for the handling of evidential digital images, this protocol subsequently adopted and implemented as the ACPO Digital Photography protocols for the UK.
I was the direct liaison officer for all North East Counter Terrorism Unit based in the Yorkshire region and was directly responsible for maintaining all their video and imaging systems providing editing support and training in all aspects of digital Imaging and Video. I was given security clearance to handle, edit and improve CCTV and surveillance material in relation to Operation Theseus (July 7, Bombings) and produced a significant amount of video material in relation to this enquiry.
I worked closely with colleagues to develop the use of interactive multimedia presentations in the Courtroom, now known as the Electronic Presentation of Evidence (EPE). A part of this process involved determining the most effective method of showing images and video media to their best light in a courtroom setting.
I am a co-founder and Director with Acume Forensics, which specialises in digital image forensic analysis company and I lead the development of technical processes and systems.
I developed the digital capture images though the use of scanners and high specification digital cameras over time completely removing the need for traditional methods (wet processes, darkrooms etc)
I also co-wrote a system to automatically repurpose crime scene images into electronic documents to speed the delivery of these images to police officers, removing the need to print, collate and deliver on average 30,000 to 40,000 images annually.
I am registered on the National Police Improvement Agencies list of experts for imaging and CCTV, Audio and comparison charting process and improvement
As part of my ongoing drive for continuous improvement and development I sourced a method of undertaking and producing photographic comparison work to present to court. I have produced in my total of 22 years within the imaging arena approximately 800–1000 photographic and video comparisons to identify offenders, vehicles and other material for presentation in court.
In September 2007 I sat on the Office for Criminal Justice Reform working Party looking at EPE inception for the Country, which resulted in the CPS, HMRC and SFO framework being introduced nationally in 2010.
In 2008 I worked with the Royal Military Police to authenticate a number of digital images, which purported to show the dead bodies of 20 Iraqi insurgents recovered from the ‘Danny Boy’ battlefield in Al Amara and taken to camp Abu Daji. I was able to demonstrate that all these images were genuine, unaltered and taken at the claimed time and location. I then successfully identified 13 of the deceased by comparing the original images with an Iraqi produced video showing some of the bodies after repatriation. This work has been used in the on going Al-Sweady Public inquiry, and the resultant court case involving the Ministry Of Defence.
I am also a member of the Forensic Science Society and had completed accreditation material for submission to the Council for Forensic Practitioners prior to its disbandment by the Forensic Science Regulator in 2009.