Interview evaluation

We conducted two interviews, one with a private detective and one with a police detective, in order to gain more insight in the investigation process of both private and federal investigators. In this blog post we want to publish our findings.

First interview – private detective

The interviewee

Our first interviewee is a 43 year old private detective who owns a private investigation firm. She has many years of experience in private investigations and has a degree in criminalistics. She has a managerial position in the company and acts a team leader in most of the investigations.

Interview evaluation

We split the interviews up into several different areas of interest. We want to present our findings based on these areas.

Company structure – The private investigation firm has a flat hierarchy where a certain set of people work as a team on a case. The team is lead by a team leader who is usually the owner himself.

Procedures – The research for a case is done by using specialized databases and the internet. For each step in the investigation process a report is written. The line of reasoning in the reports is supported by documentary evidence such as photos, videos and tracking information (via GPS).

Data protection – All evidence is stored in sealed storage units. Only the team leader is allowed to access the storage units and each access is protocolled. The protection of the data is of paramount import and therefore the team uses advanced encryption technology, virus protection software, firewalls and has no open WiFi.

Closing of a case – A case is considered closed when all requirements of the client are met. The client receive the results including crucial evidence. All other material is physically destroyed.

Feedback – The will to used optimized software and specialized technical is tools is there but the legislator sets a framework of conditions that have to be met.

Second interview – police detective

The interviewee

Our second interviewee is a 39 year old police detective who works for the criminal investigation department. He finished his professional education at the police.

Interview evaluation

Company structure – The typical deep hierarchy of the police departments in Germany. In interdisciplinary teams a coordinator is appointed.

Procedures – In field work forensic scientists are summoned as required. Usually the detectives jot down the witness statements and the crime scene is documented using photos and/or videos. Later on a report is written for the operation. Research is done using specialized databases and older cases are consulted for guidance.

Data protection – Collected evidence is stored in the evidence room and each detective accessing evidence is protocolled. Digital data is exchanged using encrypted portable storage devices. For reasons of security we were denied further information about the IT infrastructure.

Closing of a case – A final report for a case is commissioned by the lead investigator. Evidence is kept according to federal law (most likely for several years).

Feedback – Such a system could be evaluated by using it in smaller cases. The investigator could envision using smart devices like tablets in the field work.

Design principles

We were asked to formulate three design principles that we derived from our interview findings:

  1. The system must be designed to be used very intuitively
    • Some of the detectives might be older and have long years of experience with analog investigation techniques and therefore might not be able or willing to use such a system
    • The system could be first evaluated in police training facilities in order to train investigators in the use
  2. Research is crucial part in the investigation and therefore should be covered by the system
    • Important specialized databases could be included with a simple speech and gesture based interface
  3. The system should have high standards concerning data protection
    • The system should recognize if unauthorized persons are in the room and should turn black then
    • From the beginning of the development on we should keep in mind that such a system, once market ready, has to comply with the federal law concerning privacy and data protection
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