Virtual reality to enter crime scenes
Jurors could use virtual reality to enter a crime scene Reuters

Using virtual reality (VR) technology jurors could soon be able to enter crime scenes. Under a project at Staffordshire University, researchers are experimenting with technology that could "transport jurors virtually to a crime scene". The project is said to be first of its kind in Europe and the UK university was granted £140,000 ($205,000) by the European Commission to develop the technology.

It uses a green screen, latest virtual reality headsets along with technology for gaming, engineering and computing. The headset costs £700, which according to the Staffordshire police is affordable.

"VR is going to be most social platform [and] we've created new teams at Facebook to build the next generation of social apps and VR," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had earlier said. The technology, which is expected to first make inroads in the video gaming industry, would go on to bring about major changes in the field of education, entertainment and retail.

Speaking to BBC, Caroline Sturdy Colls, associate professor for forensic said, "What we want to do is to come up with the best solution that helps the criminal justice system - help the police in their detection and recording of crime and then to help jurors in court to understand those crimes better that they ever did before."

Simon Tweats, head of justice at Staffordshire Police stated that the project could bring significant difference in terms of the evidence being presented and at the same time bring to life complex scenes. Tweats added, "Doing that in a way that is far easier for juries to understand and appreciate - which can only be good for everybody, for prosecution and defence."

"We don't have a very good track record with bringing technology into court rooms," said Jason Holt, a barrister at Steven Solicitors.

"We've recently gone on to a digital system within the Crown court and it's causing significant delays; the systems we're using break down, the technology isn't sufficient and we go back to pen and paper. It's causing delays in court, in my own experience.

"I do wonder how much difference going to a crime scene in 3D will make, compared to a standard DVD and video cameras which are used at the moment to record similar information," Holt added.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice opined that this technology would be helpful by removing unnecessary court hearings. "Making the most of new technology will remove unnecessary hearings, cut costs for litigants and make justice more accessible," he said.

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