Recognising changes in visual representation of clothing in CCTV imaging

Date07 December 2015
Published date07 December 2015
AuthorKathryn Anne Denny
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology
Recognising changes in visual
representation of clothing in CCTV
Kathryn Anne Denny
Kathryn Anne Denny is based
at Photographic Section,
Queensland Police Service,
Brisbane, Australia.
Purpose Closed circuit television (CCTV) imaging is an increasingly usedtechnology and it is now common
place for law enforcement to access CCTV footage as an investigative tool to assist in the nomination of a
person of interest, or to aid in the prosecution of an offender. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role
of imaging practitioners in the analysis and interpretation of CCTV images within a law enforcement context. It
explores and addresses the limitations of CCTV imaging in evidence with a focus on the interpretation of
changes in the visual representation of clothing items.
Design/methodology/approach This paper demonstrates the variations observed in four dark toned
garments imaged using one CCTV camera with two different recording settings visible light and near
infrared. The device used was installed and operated in a manner comparable to that used in the public
domain, the resulting images indicative of those experienced in casework.
Findings The results display a noticeable change to the tonality of each clothing itembetween the varied
recording conditions. These inconsistencies highlight the limitations of layperson analysis and identify the
importanceof the inclusion of imaging practitionerswhen interpreting and analysingsuch images as evidence.
Originality/value With an abundance of images in the society, layperson interpretation has become
common place. Recognising the value of trained imaging practitioners who can assist law enforcement in
analysis and interpretation is paramount to ensuring CCTV images as evidence are used appropriately.
Keywords Imaging, Interpretation, Comparative analysis, Closed circuit television, Evidence, Infrared
Paper type Technical paper
As the use of closed circuit television (CCTV) technology has increased in recent years, the
necessity to interpret these images likewise increases. This need has formed much debate in
forensic, scientific, imaging and legal communities about the merits of image interpretation and
also of the dangers and limitations of CCTV-based evidence (Bromby and Ness, 2006).
There remains a common belief that an image is just an image; that it is a true and accurate
representationof a subject and as such no specialised expertise is required to interpret what can
clearly be seen.It is also said the benefit of CCTVtechnology is that it assistsin telling the storyof
what has occurred (Costigan, 2007). However, there are instances where the image can be
misrepresentative of the truth and what can clearlybe seen in an image may not in fact be a true
and accurate representation of the actualsubject. Making a determination of whatis real and what
is a construct of an imaging process becomescrucial in interpreting and analysing CCTV images.
It is recognised amongst imaging professionals that image interpretation is an essential
element to photographic evidence (Porter and Kennedy, 2012; Vorder Bruegge, 2002), with the
Received 8 August 2015
Revised 8 August 2015
Accepted 8 September 2015
DOI 10.1108/JCRPP-08-2015-0033 VOL. 1 NO. 4 2015, pp.233-238, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 2056-3841

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