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3D laser scanner set to revolutionise road crash investigations

A new high-tech 3D laser scanner is set to revolutionise the way officers investigate crash scenes on the county’s major road network.

Essex Police
Above: Pc Alan Barlow with scanner


The RIEGL VZ-400 scanner, delivered to Essex Police’s Forensic Collision Investigation Unit last month, collects detailed 3D images of crash sites in up to half the time it currently takes an officer to collect evidence manually.

As well as reducing the length of time a road needs to be closed after a serious crash, the data collected can recreate a virtual copy of the scene which can be used as an investigative aid and in court to support or contest driver and witness statements.

Put simply, the scanner collects evidence using a laser beam to survey and record 120,000 tiny details of the scene every second while slowly rotating on a 360 degree axis.

Trials on London’s road network showed the scanners were able to collect 30 per cent more data up to 50 per cent faster than the traditional manual methods. In turn, average road closure times were reduced by an average of 90 minutes.

Essex Police
Above: Pc Alan Barlow with scanner

Aside the Metropolitan Police Service, laser scanning has been launched in Essex first because of its links to the London 2012 Olympic road network. Over time the scanners will be rolled out to 25 other forces across England.

The equipment has been jointly funded by the Department of Transport, the NPIA, Essex Police Authority and Essex County Council.

A number of officers from the Forensic Collision Investigation Unit at Boreham have already been trained to use the equipment supplied by 3D Laser Mapping but all of the team will eventually be able to use the tool.

Pc Duncan Thurwell from the Forensic Collision Investigation Unit said: “The laser scanner is an amazing piece of equipment that will reduce road closure times after fatal or serious collisions – something we know is a source of frustration to members of the public who rely on the roads.

“It also allows us to build a much more detailed picture of events from evidence at the scene and turn it into a virtual 3D world which can be used as an investigative aid, to analyse the actions of a driver from their viewpoint or be called upon in court to test witness evidence.

“Although the scanner is being rolled out to aid the investigation of collisions, it can also be used at the scenes of other serious incidents where detailed evidence needs to be captured such as murder or rape.”

 

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