Rapid growth in the volume of material being intercepted by Queensland Police's child safety and sex crime division has forced the service to modernise its evidence handling system.
QPS has spent the last two years deploying the replacement evidence handling system, known as the State-wide Access to Digital Seized Evidence (SASDE), and pushed it live on August 9.
The old system had been unable to cope with the growing influx of digital material the QPS was intercepting - a downside to expanded global internet usage and easy access to technology.
“If a seizure was too big [the old system] couldn’t cope and we would have to resort to physically sending hard-drives to get that material where it needed to be,” Detective Craig Weatherley, acting inspector of the State’s Child Safety and Sexual Crime group, said.
“Five years ago a 10GB hard-drive was massive. But now we are seeing more high definition photography and movies and we are dealing with petabytes and terabytes of information.
“We realised we needed a system that had a bit more muscle.”
He described the step up in performance of the new SASDE as “massive”.
“In one test we conducted in Townsville there was instantaneous population of around 250,000 images,” he said.
The State-wide Access to Digital Seized Evidence (SASDE) is based on EMC’s Isilon solution.
It kicked off with about a petabyte’s worth of capacity, which Weatherly expects to last the QPS for around five years. The system has the scalability to expand on this by about 20 times, enabling the QPS to abide by evidence of crimes legislation which requires that it hang onto this material for a minimum of 75 years.
The new system will minimise the time taken to get seized information from a crime scene to specialist analysts, charged with the grim task of categorising each image in what could be a set in the hundreds of thousands.
As well as giving each image a severity code (a requirement of the courts), the analysis stage picks out identifying features – unique landmarks or plants and animals, power points specific to countries and regions – which can prove vital to identifying victims and intervening in their abuse.
“That information used to sit in police headquarters and the lack of timeliness in getting it mapped out became an issue when we were having to send things like USBs and motherboards across the state,” said Weatherley.
“Now our people can get straight onto the Queensland Police network and access that evidence straight away.”
The system will be used right across the QPS to handle digital evidence and will be maintained by a recently centralised Information Technology Division (ITD).