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Thread: Photos as evidence

  1. #1
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    Default Photos as evidence

    As has been pointed out elsewhere, digital photos can be manipulated. I raised this point a few weeks back with a couple of friends. Unfortunately, just over a month ago, one of them was involved in an accident. Having the same volunteer hobby as myself, they carry a "throwaway" one use camera on board, that they used to capture the location of vehicles, etc. Being canny, and also used to having to hand over photographs of potential crime scenes (i.e. when there is serious injury on rallies) they obtained from the police a full receipt with all the encryption details on the camera.

    That film (vImean still photos) was sufficient to prove what happened (with other evidence). So a big thanks to all of you who pointed out the issues of digital photos and let's keep film alive, for all or our sakes.

  2. #2
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    Normally, if a digital photograph is manipulated, it can be easily detected; the software used will leave evidence, stored with the photograph. It is possible to doctor without leaving evidence but this requires very special software or you need to know exactly what you are doing.

  3. #3
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    The obvious answer to this point is to carry a throw-away camera in your vehicle at all tis. The only question is as to how long it will last before the battery runs low. Can the battery be replaced?

    I have a cheap camera which came as a purchase bonus. It isn't a throw-away camera, but the images cannot be viewed or manipulated by the camera, and there is no removable data chip. Any amendment can only be achieved after downloading to a computer.
    So, would this camera be acceptale for evidence?

  4. #4
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    Hi, snowball,
    All photographs are admissible as evidence, what you present, as evidence is your choice. The opposing side will attempt to discredit that evidence; this is when the issue of tampering would come up.
    I would not say it is impossible to tamper with a digital photograph and not leave evidence but extremely difficult to the point where we can say it is impossible for normal people. This applies if the tampering was done in camera or in external software.
    I was reading about some tests done on speed camera photographs and the image enhancement, done in camera, was detectable. This is interesting because, when film was used, the police were routinely digitising the images to use image enhancement software to 'clean up' the number plates. This was tested in court; the judged ruled that these photographs were inadmissible as evidence of speeding because they had been tampered with. I wonder what would happen if modern speeding photographs got into a real court?

  5. #5
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    I bought a Petri SLR camera years ago, and still use it occasionally. I have made a few double exposure photos with it, although they have only been for my own entertainment. As to using photographs as evidence, it is a good idea to take a 'reference' photo before and after any shots you would wish to use in Court, as these will 'prove' on the negatives that they have not been tampered with. The most common type of reference shots are of the headline on the relevant date newspaper.

  6. #6
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    I would have though that any digital photo taken by a mobile phone for example, would be admissible in court.
    Especially if the person has kept it on their phone and not transferred on to a computer, where it "could" be tampered with!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by smudger879n View Post
    I would have though that any digital photo taken by a mobile phone for example, would be admissible in court.
    Especially if the person has kept it on their phone and not transferred on to a computer, where it "could" be tampered with!
    The court would want copies so it would have to be printed.

  8. #8
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    Smudger, you would probably be allowed to use them, as, if you took the photographs, you could swear to the fact that what was on the photo was what you saw, and that you had not manipulated the photos in any way. The real problem comes when there is any suggestion of manipulation. It is possible to remove a photo from a mobile phone, mess around with it, and replace it on the phone. Not only that, but it is possible to remove all trace that it had been removed, manipulated and replaced.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowball View Post
    The obvious answer to this point is to carry a throw-away camera in your vehicle at all tis. The only question is as to how long it will last before the battery runs low. Can the battery be replaced?

    I have a cheap camera which came as a purchase bonus. It isn't a throw-away camera, but the images cannot be viewed or manipulated by the camera, and there is no removable data chip. Any amendment can only be achieved after downloading to a computer.
    So, would this camera be acceptale for evidence?
    In answer to your first para, Snowball, you can't replace the battery. I find they last about a year or so and I just use them as an ordinary camera at the end of that time and send them off for developing and printing. On the one occasion I've had to hand the throwaway to the Police, it was receipted and I received copies of the photos and my statement.

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