New Generation of Evidence Screening Tools

August 17, 2021
— With thousands of items of evidence being submitted to forensic laboratories every day, no wonder evidence backlogs remain one of the biggest concerns facing crime lab directors across the United States. Now, in a bid to produce a system capable of tackling the growing piles of evidence submissions, one firm has developed a new semi-automated forensic triage system for the rapid screening, mark-up, photographic capture, and examination of evidence as it arrives in the lab.

Released at the tail-end of 2019, the foster+freeman Crime-lite ML PRO is an all-in-one multi-spectral screening and imaging tool that improves the speed and efficiency of crime laboratories by dramatically reducing the time it takes to detect evidence including body fluids, fingermarks, gunshot residues, and suspect fibers.

Already being used in forensic labs across the US and Europe, the system benefits examiners by integrating several existing technologies into a single, simple-to-operate device, streamlining the process of marking up evidence for further examination.

Figure 1. Examiner using the Crime-lite MLPRO examines a white shirt under blue light (495nm) to reveal traces of body fluids

Scenario: The Laundry Basket

A CSI team searching a property, as part of an investigation into an alleged sexual assault, comes across a laundry basket overflowing with dirty clothes. Aware that valuable biological evidence may be present on one or more items of clothing, they bag up every item in the basket before transporting it back to the lab for further examination.

At the laboratory, technicians are presented with a huge pile of evidence including the contents of the laundry basket. Each item needs to be inventoried, examined for traces of biological evidence using a selection of narrow waveband alternate light sources, photographed under each light source using a corresponding set of fluorescence-imaging filters, marked-up for further analysis (if required), recorded, and then either discarded (not of evidential value) or forwarded for swabbing, chemical testing, and DNA retrieval. At all times during this procedure, the items must be protected from cross-contamination with handling kept to an absolute minimum.

In a laboratory equipped with a Crime-lite MLPRO system, each item of evidence can be quickly and easily examined and photographed under multiple wavelengths of illumination using a single system. What’s more, large items can be examined with minimal physical handling, and the entire process (illumination, filtration, image capture and reporting) can be semi-automated to further simplify the task. By comprehensively examining and recording each item of evidence in a matter of minutes, an evidence backlog has been prevented and valuable traces of biological evidence have been detected, imaged, and forwarded to the relevant department for further analysis where required.

Figure 2. Crime-lite MLPRO image comparison of a patterned bed sheet. Left image in white light only. Right image in blue light (495nn) shows presence of blood spatter and body fluids, which were previously invisible.


Integrated Technology

Key to the usability of the Crime-lite ML PRO is the fact that it combines three core functions of evidence screening into a single instrument: multi-spectral illumination, forensic imaging, evidence mark-up, and reporting.

Examinations are conducted using the system's 10-in. touchscreen display and can be displayed in high-resolution via an attached 32-in. monitor. Pre-set examinations and automatic filter selection make the system quick and easy to use.

Figure 3. Crime-lite MLPRO screenshot of the report function

Rapid Report Generation

Once an area or item of evidence has been detected and photographed, these digital captures can then be marked up using text and shape annotations, allowing areas of interest to be easily identified. Using the advanced functionalities, the ML PRO software is able to produce court-ready reports complete with chain-of-custody information, contextual images, side-by-side comparisons, and software-generated line drawings.

Next-Generation Screening Technology

Part of a significant leap forward in forensic light source and evidence detection tools, the Crime-lite ML PRO is part of a new generation of forensic screening technology that is set to speed up and simplify the day-to-day operation of busy forensic labs. For further information on the Crime-lite ML PRO and to find out how it can be of benefit to our investigations, please contact the team at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Figure 4. Crime-lite ML PRO device with bench mount, no PC or further accessories are required

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