GREATER Manchester is trialling new technology to enhance the service provided to victims of domestic abuse and sexual abuse allowing them, when appropriate, to remain in possession of their mobile phones after reporting a crime to police.

Greater Manchester Police have purchased a number of Odyssey devices, which has been partially funded by Greater Manchester Combined Authority. The Odyssey technology allows for specially trained police officers, supported by forensic experts, to extract evidence of crime from mobile devices within a set time period.  The technology is currently being trialled as a proof of concept in the Salford district area and has been codenamed Operation Capture.

The technology will be used in incidents involving victims and witnesses of domestic abuse, rape and sexual offences who may have evidence on their mobile devices which can be evidentially recovered at the scene and in the presence of the victim. It allows for only data relevant to the investigation to be downloaded under what is a new and innovative victim led investigative process.

The technology has been purchased following reports from victims who say having their mobile devices taken away from them after reporting a crime left them feeling vulnerable and alone. The new technology will mean victims will no longer have to hand over their mobile devices.

Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, Bev Hughes, said: “In Greater Manchester we want to move as quickly as possible to using technology that places a victim’s interests at the heart of the investigation. It is vital that people have confidence to report a crime to the police and feel safe after doing so.

“Odyssey also means only relevant data is extracted, removing concerns that anything unnecessary will be reviewed or used in the case. Feedback from the Crown Prosecution Service is that Odyssey can play a significant role in helping to make charging decisions.

“Odyssey is an example of how GMP is using innovative ways to support victims, and we are keen to explore other avenues of how technology can be used to better support and protect victims in the city-region.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Michaela Kerr, Head of GMPs Public Protection Division, said: “We know from academic research, victim feedback and support services insights that having mobile devices taken away from victims can leave them feeling disempowered, vulnerable and dramatically impacts on their ability to access their friends, family and things that are critical to them running their day to day lives, so we want to explore new technology to remove the need to do that where possible and this is where utilising the Odyssey Software in this Proof of Concept can assist.

“We also know from our own experience and that of other forces who have used the Odyssey technology, the ability to obtain key evidence there and then at the scene leads to quicker arrests, more charges, increased victim confidence and more convictions so we are excited to be able to use this opportunity to improve how we support and protect victims moving forward. The Proof of Concept is supported and enhanced by our digital forensic experts in providing this new and innovative technology to our front-line police officers.”

Operation Capture requires significant upskilling and training of officers to allow GMP to provide the highest level of service to the city-region. GMP and Blue Lights Digital (provider of the Odyssey Technology) are currently in the process of training in excess of 50 officers who have expressed an interest in the project. The roll out of Operation Capture is expected to go live in the third quarter of this year.

Greater Manchester Police and GMCA are jointly committed to supporting victims in the city-region. Last year, the Navigator project was launched which saw youth workers embedded in Accident and Emergency departments across hospitals in Greater Manchester to engage with young people aged 10-25 who have been affected by violence.

The youth workers work with the young person to help them cope and recover from their experience of violence and assist with access to local support networks to prevent the potential of further violence.  The project has now received over 300 referrals and been expanded to include referrals from NWAS and the community. A specialist Navigator has been recruited to help young people suffering from domestic violence.

A number of support services available for victims in Greater Manchester. Greater Manchester Victim Support can be reached on 0300 303 0162.The local victim care team in Greater Manchester lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am-7pm and Saturday 9am-5pm.

Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support via live chat and find details of a range of support services at www.gmvictims.org.uk.  The out of hours support line can be reached on 0808 1689 111.


Article Published: 10/08/2022 09:40 AM