Forensic Information Management System (FIMS)
Criminals have been discovering different ways of committing crimes to avoid getting caught by law officials. To solve any crime faster and providing justice, several laws have been made and new techniques are being developed to counter any difficulties and Forensic Information Management System is one of them.
Criminal investigation involves a number of steps starting from the recognition of a crime scene to the closure of the case. These number of steps make the criminal investigation a complex and lengthy process. The role of forensics in solving crimes is not hidden from anyone. It starts at the scene of the crime and continues through the course of the investigation to the courtroom and beyond.
The forensic analysis is also one of the difficult and complex procedures in criminal investigation and it is also difficult to maintain all the records manually. As in the present scenario each and every person and every field is being digitalized, criminal investigation has also entered the virtual race.
Forensic Information Management System
Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is the digital weapon which has come into existence for combating the difficulties in maintaining the records. LIMS is an automated system to handle the monitoring of case samples and associated data throughout their life cycle that is before, during, and after the testing methods.
An expanded version of LIMS is the FIMS which stands for Forensic Information Management System. It is a software system developed to automate operations in the West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory.
The ability for an extended network of professionals to contribute data and make requests in real-time, as well as automate and streamline operations without compromising on security or adherence, offers a highly efficient, secure, and economical solution.
FIMS is an integrated program which helps to maintain each and every aspect of a criminal investigation which includes the information regarding crime scene, chain of custody, laboratory analysis, medical examiners, legal information and property management.
FIMS helps to maintain an unquestionable electronic chain of custody of evidence, regardless of the type of crime that has been committed or how the investigation develops from the moment police arrive on the scene until the day of either conviction or exoneration of the suspect(s).
It supports Microsoft Windows, the Internet, and the personal digital assistant platforms.
Who Introduced FIMS?
The West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory (WVSPFL) is an American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCD-LAB) accredited laboratory that performs
specialized examination of evidence that is collected during criminal investigations.
It has seven main units for the analysis of evidences collected from the crime scenes. they are- Biochemistry (DNA) unit, Firearms/Tool marks unit, Trace evidence unit, Drug testing unit, latent print unit, Toxicology unit and Questioned documents unit.
FIMS was first introduced only to the Biochemistry unit in 2004, however, work is underway to expand its use to the other Laboratory units.
Once fully developed, the system will enable the sharing of information with State and Federal agencies, the uploading of local crime data to national databases, and the enabling of law enforcement agents to access crime information on handheld devices.
Since DNA evidence has become a major factor in determining guilt or innocence, the scientific chain of evidentiary custody in cold cases can now last for decades.
How FIMS work?
FIMS was created as it supports multiple environments in order to facilitate the evidence and information
There are mainly three important working environments of FIMS- Windows based programming environment, Web based programming environment and Mobile programming environment.
These environments interface with Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)
through the Intranet and the Internet.
The FIMS implementation in the Biochemistry unit involves the processes like- case reporting, evidence storage, evidence processing, evidence extraction and amplification, and finally information storage and sharing.
- The case reporting is the step which records the information about- the crime, reporter, victim, suspect, evidences and acceptor of the evidences.
- The next step is the evidence storage in which the evidence is stored in the laboratory and it is ensured that evidence is preserved in the same state in which it was recovered at the crime scene and that it is not contaminated.
- After storage the evidence is processed which includes preparing evidence for examination by decoding, separating critical points and areas, taking photographs, and creating a file. This file is retained in a bar-coded envelope(which contains the case number) that is stored in a freezer of Biochemistry unit.
- Once the evidence is processed to reshape it into a condensed workable form, it is then directed to extraction and amplification. Evidence amplification receives extracted evidence and records whether or not amplification is needed. When the evidence extraction and amplification has been verified, a draft report is produced which is sent to the evidence technician. This report is then sent to the requested agency.
- The final step is the storage and sharing in which the laboratory personnel, law enforcement agency personnel, and prosecutors can share information in the FIMS.
The law enforcement agency sending evidence to the Laboratory can complete the case report form, track the status of the case, and review the final report online. Prosecutors can also to track the status of agency-submitted cases and review the final report online.
The FIMS allows West Virginia Laboratory personnel, law enforcement agency personnel, and prosecutors to share information.
FIMS is a boon for the investigators as it speeds up the investigation procedures with the help of advanced technology, forensic intelligence and high quality and accuracy.
It works for forensic intelligence from the crime scene to legal proceedings, accelerating the investigative process by streamlining, connecting, and analyzing all aspects of a criminal case.
And it is the only option needed for precise, secure data storage and analysis as the investigation progresses, including property management, forensic lab analysis, medical examination, and investigative operations.
The law enforcement agencies frequently require connections between the LIMS and other systems, such as the agency’s Records Management System (RMS) or the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS). In such circumstances, organizations benefit substantially from selecting a more sophisticated, enterprise-level LIMS with fewer needless interfaces.