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Met trials 'storyboard' software in VAWG cases

The software 'cleanses and presents' data in a way that allows it to be analysed within seconds of input.

The Met is trialling the use of analytical software in VAWG cases in order to manage the amount of communications and travel data typically involved. 

The force has told Police Oracle that it doesn't believe the software is being used nationally yet to produce evidential packages in public protection settings, although it is used for county lines investigations. 

According to the MPS, the software reduces investigative time and thus lowers the time taken to present cases to the CPS. The force has confirmed that similar software is available via a number of different providers. 

The force is therefore looking to broaden its use, specifically across other vulnerability cases such as missing people and CSE.

It is currently being trialled in the East BCU Public Protection Team with testing and evaluation results due in Spring 2023. 

The software “cleanses and presents” data and can analyse it within seconds of it being inputted. Previously, multiple data sets would take weeks of analysis. 

The force told Police Oracle that it creates tables and maps that can show core times of harassment/stalking - co-locations that demonstrate where devices belonging to the victim and offender were within an area of each other. It can then be overlaid on local CCTV. 

Yesterday (November 30), a stalker pleaded guilty to a range of offences in the first VAWG case that the Met had used the analytical software for. 

Detectives had used the software to map out phone signals which, in conjunction with other comms and travel data, allowed them to map out his stalking patterns. 

The victim had begun a relationship with Anhar Hussain in 2020. From March 2021, their relationship began to deteriorate and in April he created a fake social media account in the victim’s name and started communicating with her family. 

During arguments, he would shout and scream into her face, punch walls near to her, throw household objects, including a laptop in her direction, pull and push her about the house and throw her onto the sofa. 

When she moved to another address, Hussain began to harass the victim by constantly calling her, many times in a single minute. He called her more than 700 times a day

These calls were during unsociable hours so he could find out where she was residing.

Officers from the East Area Public Protection Predatory Offender Unit utilised the software to evidence 157 occasions when the suspect co-located within close proximity of the victim during his stalking.

The software also cleansed and presented the elements of harassment through calls and other digital devices utilised in this sustained predatory behaviour.

It further allowed the officers to create an illustrative story board of tables and maps which formed part of an evidential package - both for the CPS and any future jury. 

Hussain pleaded guilty to arson, harassment, fear of violence, dangerous driving and driving whilst disqualified and without insurance. He has been remanded in custody for sentencing later this month. 

Head of Public Protection for the East Area Command Unit, Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford, said: “The introduction of analytical software that can cleanse and manage big data from electronic devices such as mobile phones and computers allows my officers to self-analyse within seconds of inputting it.

"Whilst it’s pivotal to equip and enable our officers with the right tools the use of this software in public protection cases such as stalking and harassment has significantly reduced the time to investigate and present cases to the Crown Prosecution Service for charging decisions.

"As such for me the most important element resulting from the trial so far is a better service to the victim who previously could spend significant time waiting for the investigation to conclude due to the big data that these offences create.”

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