Speaking on The Leaders Council Podcast, Anatomap founder Simon Franc reflected on the 2021 launch of the new Injury Capture app, which he hopes will help empower victims of abuse, sexual assault and violent crime all over the world by aiding the ability of victims and their associates to record and report it.
The free-to-use app allows legally admissible forensic imagery and other associated evidence to be gathered and safely stored to support police investigations and prosecutions. To make this possible, the app was developed in consultation with police forces, victims’ support organisations and criminal justice experts, is fully compliant with data protection and privacy laws, and caches evidence privately and securely so that it can never be maliciously deleted.
Franc said on the podcast: “Injury Capture is focused on assisting victims of violent crime. By that, we are talking about assault, domestic abuse, and sexual offences. Essentially, what the app does is it allows anyone to capture and store all the evidence related to these offences in a format which ensures that it is immediately legally admissible. This means when the victim does choose to submit it to the police, then the authorities hopefully have all the evidence they need to safeguard the victim and successfully prosecute the offender.”
For Franc, it is Injury Capture’s ability to make any evidence captured scalable and admissible as forensic evidence that truly makes the app a gamechanger in victim empowerment.
He explained: “We are asked a lot about why people simply cannot take these images on their phones. The first reason is that it is not scaled in any way and for an image to be considered a forensic image and forensic evidence, it must have a scale applied to it. Therefore, sometimes you see CSIs going around with a large camera and ruler and taking images at a crime scene or images of a victim’s injuries.
“With Injury Capture, the machine learning and artificial intelligence that we have designed allows the app to accurately scale any image taken through the app. So, this empowers anybody to be able to submit images as evidence as a forensic scientist would.
“Furthermore, if you simply capture something on your mobile device, it must then be taken to the police if or when you choose to report it, and this can often result in the police needing to download a person’s entire device to verify the evidence. Anything taken through Injury Capture is already verified because the app captures all the metadata associated with the upload. We also must remember that it may not be safe to hold such evidence just on our mobiles, especially in domestic violence scenarios. So, by uploading evidence to the app it is safely stored so that even if somebody maliciously deletes evidence from the device or the device becomes lost or destroyed, evidence is securely stored in the cloud.”
Franc went on to discuss his background as the founder and CEO of another business, the leading forensic science service provider Forensic Equity, and how his experiences at the helm made him feel compelled to change the landscape for violent crime victims having seen first-hand that 77 per cent of reported incidents are unable to proceed to prosecution owing to evidential difficulties [as of September 2021].
“Evidential difficulties are one of several issues we currently face that Injury Capture seeks to address,” Franc said.
“50 per cent of people that are victims of any crime will never report it. When we look at sexual assault crimes specifically, that drops down to just 16 per cent. There is a significant issue of confidence in reporting crimes, therefore, and we have to look at how we can encourage people to report them.
“If someone doesn’t want to report a crime immediately because of trauma, embarrassment or other reasons, we need to enable them to report in a manner that will not be detrimental with regards to evidence. So, we capture the evidence using the app and it can be submitted to the authorities at any time. This gives the victim that time to reflect and they can then move forward with taking their case to the authorities if they want to.”
After successfully launching in Jersey and the Channel Islands and being connected with authorities and support services in the region, Injury Capture has now been made available anywhere in the world and making it more accessible across the globe by converting it into different languages and raising awareness of the app’s capabilities is Franc’s next priority.
“We first launched the app in Jersey and the Channel Islands, and it was very well received there. It is fully connected with all the support services and policing on the island. It is now available on the iOS App Store and Play Store for Android and is usable anywhere in the world. We’ve seen it downloaded in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. It is only available in English and a couple of other languages at present, but hopefully in the near future we will be rolling it out in all languages.
“The biggest mission we have over the next 12 months is to make people really aware of it. There are a lot of people we need to inform about it and we’re hoping that as many people as possible share that message. We received many comments when we launched in Jersey from abuse survivors who wished it existed when they were suffering, and that really strikes home.”
To help raise that awareness, Franc was also clear that the mainstream media outlets are likely to have a significant role to play, although there were already signs of positive traction.
“I especially hope that the mainstream media engages with us and helps us in this drive, because they have a very powerful reach. We need to access as many people as possible and the big media organisations will hopefully have a role to play in helping us do that.”
How Injury Capture works:
· Take photographs of injuries that are ‘scaled’ [measured] in line with the legal requirements to qualify as forensic evidence.
· Provide details of the incident
· Upload any files, videos, notes, messages, etc that are supplementary evidence
· Friends and family can also submit evidence
· The data is securely stored according to the legal requirements for court admission, preserving vital metadata which validates the evidence with details such as location and time, etc
· It can be sent to the police within minutes, allowing them to act swiftly
· If the victim isn’t able to report the attack instantly, the evidence will still be available to submit, allowing for a swift investigation and hopefully a successful prosecution, weeks, months, or even years later.
· Injuries and evidence are gathered and retained if the victim is unable to seek immediate police help
· It’s hoped the app will also increase early guilty pleas in the same way police body worn cameras do. This prevents the victim from having to go through a trial process and saves on justice system time and resources.
The app can be downloaded for free from Google and Apple app stores, or by visiting: https://www.injurycapture.com/
Photo provided by Anatomap