Chorus was recently featured in the Telegraph about how law enforcement are using technology to fight human trafficking. You can read the full article below or online here.
Data and the day-to-day fight against crime
How Chorus uses tech to fight human trafficking
By Hazel Davis
There has never been a greater need for data security. The growing use of the internet and the proliferation of technology means that the sheer volume and variety of data involved in crimes such as human trafficking and terrorism can be near-impossible to process manually.
Police investigations can be lengthy and unwieldy and typically involve data from a number of different sources.
“Criminals are getting smarter and making use of new technology in order to commit crimes and hide from the police,” says Boyd Mulvey, founder of Suffolk-based tech company Chorus, which makes data analysis for criminal investigations more efficient through purpose-built software for police analysts and investigators.
The company’s origins stem from Mr Mulvey’s days as an investor. He says: “I was working with an early-stage tech company providing a data collection solution for the intelligence community. I assumed the police sector would have a similar problem to this but, after some research, I discovered their problem was in fact around making sense of the data they had access to. “I had previously created a similar solution for the financial community and thought I had the skill set to marry the two together, so I went for it and Chorus was born.”
The Chorus + software enables the police to find missing or vulnerable people in minutes rather than days or weeks. Mr Mulvey explains: “it processes data in seconds, allows the analyst to answer key investigation questions immediately, and also open up new lines of enquiry. The data can be represented visually using maps, timelines, and social networks to build a picture of suspects’ whereabouts and interactions around the time of an offence.”
Take an issue such as modern slavery, which is on the rise. The Home Office predicts that there may be as many as 13,000 victims in the UK alone. The Chorus + software helps to break down police data silos and share data to combat human trafficking as it takes place across multiple jurisdictions and locations. It also allows different police forces and departments to unlock intelligence from previous investigations and operations. “Searching can be done easily across multiple criteria,” Mr Mulvey explains, “including phone, IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity), IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) and keywords.”
Chorus is currently working with around 90pc of police forces and all of the counter terrorism units in the UK to cleanse, process and analyse all types of digital data used in their investigations. It can also, says Mr Mulvey, be used to create reports at the push of a button. These reports can then be used as evidence in court.
While much of the company’s work is heavily under wraps, one of Chorus’s notable successes includes helping Essex police crack an organised crime gang involved in human trafficking and sexual exploitation, and helping bring a drugs conspiracy to justice with the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, wherein 15 offenders were convicted and £1m worth of wholesale drugs removed from the streets.
And the software’s strengths lie in how it works with conspiracy-based crimes where gangs are involved. Says Mr Mulvey: “As a gang you need to communicate to be effective. Chorus identifies these communications and the links between people very quickly. It also has the capability to identify a person’s whereabouts around the time of an offence.”
Due to the size and technical nature of data-related investigations, the police are not always able to cope in the long term without technical solutions. For Mr Mulvey, this means it’s vitally important for UK tech businesses to work together and with the police to create solutions. He says: “The UK has a great tech sector with a fantastic skills pool, but there are still barriers in place that prevent us from understanding police needs and delivering solutions.”
For Mr Mulvey, his work is a labour of love: “Knowing that the company I founded makes a real difference to police investigations and helps to keep the streets safe is something I am very proud of.”