The Bill – Computers for Police


I was watching the British police drama show The Bill [1] and I was impressed by their use of computers.

They were analysing the evidence of a homicide and one of the tasks was to assemble a time-line of the related events. They had a projector connected to a computer which displayed the data and used what was apparently an infra-red pen (presumably similar in technology to Rusty’s infra-red pen for Wii-Mote Pong [2]) to write on the wall and the computer then performed OCR to convert it to printed text. When new evidence was discovered about the time of events they used drag and drop to move the events around to the correct time slots.

I’ve seen many horribly faked renditions of computer stuff on TV, but this seemed quite realistic. It was all technically possible, in many cases what was displayed would be quite inconvenient to fake if you didn’t have software to do it, and little touches like closing the session when the case was resolved are things that you wouldn’t bother with if faking it. The down-side to my analysis is that I had a couple of glasses of red wine so I might be more gullible than usual. ;)

Some years ago I swore off watching The Bill after a horribly stupid episode about computer crime (teenage haxor sells copies of cracked software to computer store owner for resale to the public, then computer store owner murders him for disrespect and price-gouging). I refrained from watching for almost a decade after that. But it seems that they have redeemed themself to some degree.

I wonder whether the software they were showing is really used by law enforcement, or whether it’s designed for corporations to use in tele-conferences etc.

In the same episode they showed the recordings of two security cameras on projectors side by side for comparison, they could fast-forward them independently but they couldn’t zoom in or do other silly and impossible things.

1 thought on “The Bill – Computers for Police”

  1. etbe says:

    The above URL is interesting for it’s follow-up of this issue, the author seems to know more about The Bill than I ever will.

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