The very first space detective agency: Satellite imagery experts launch new company to help settle legal disputes
Satellite imaging specialist Professor Raymond Harris and space lawyer Raymond Purdy have teamed up to form new company Air & Space Evidence Ltd of London.
The firm, of which both are named as directors, will enable members of the public to successfully obtain and use authentic satellite imagery to stand up a court case.
From domestic disputes between homeowners to murder investigations, the space detectives will be able to provide satellite images for any given case.
Mr Purdy, 41, who said the agency’s services won’t cost much more than having a property surveyed, said most of the detectives’ work will involve providing and analysing images taken by orbiting satellites.
However, in some cases where images with greater resolution are needed, they also plan to use aerial photos from drones.
Mr Purdy told New Scientist: ‘Trials have been collapsing because courts cannot be convinced of the authenticity of image data.
‘We can make a difference by ensuring space images have audit trails that stand up,’
The pair will draw upon their expertise in commissioning space images and their familiarity with space image suppliers like Digital Globe of Longmont in Colorado for their work.
Mr Harris added: ‘Because it is always possible to modify a digital image, you need strong archiving procedures plus information on when it was captured and what happened to it subsequently. We know how to do that.’
He said that as well as major civil and criminal investigations, the agency will also be able to help with fraud cases, waste and environment issues and illegal activity.
Private investigator Paul Champion, who is based in Cardiff, described the new company as an ‘innovative idea’.
Mr Champion, who is also a governor of the Association of British Investigators, told New Scientist: ‘Investigators will really welcome the ability to identify when an incident occurred using before and after satellite or aerial images.’
By EMMA GLANFIELD