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Ten Steps to Effectively Managing Cases and Investigations within Lima v2.9

29 July 2021

Our award-winning software platform has evolved significantly and the latest version of Lima now delivers a seamless end-to-end solution for all types of forensic case management. Lima v2.9 has completely rewritten the rules and can now be used for ‘Any Evidence and Any Test’ across the forensic spectrum.

On a practical level, this means that whether you’re a police force or a DNA scientist, Lima can manage your caseload and ensure a streamlined process across your entire workflow.

Initial feedback has been fantastic, praising Lima’s intuitive design and easy-to-use features. We also offer follow-up, bespoke demonstrations and training after installation as part of the Lima package.

Here we’ve rounded up ten steps to effectively manage cases and investigations and ensure that you’re getting the maximum benefit from our tried-and-tested platform:

1. Case Overview/Case Details

The Case Overview function in Lima v2.9 has made casework and investigation management more efficient than ever before.

When a new case comes into a forensic laboratory, a case record will be created in Lima. Each case is assigned with a unique case reference number in order to easily identify any one given case, with other associated information such as the Operation Name, Crime Number and External Reference also enterable into the Lima platform.

With Lima, one of our core aims was to replicate the end-to-end forensic process, so that each case is streamlined and replicable in order to verify results and processes.

2. Collection

The second stage in Lima’s casework management system is the Collection record. This acts as the receipt of evidence into the laboratory or facility, whether that’s seizure on premise at the scene of a crime or the delivery of evidence to a laboratory or facility. This feature of the latest Lima software allows you to monitor exactly what exhibits and evidence types have entered your facility in relation to any one specific case.

3. Item Processing

Once the collection section of the case has been completed, you will be able to create an evidence item, and this is where you can log and record all of the details about a piece of evidence. This feature of our software platform is very versatile in terms of the evidence items that can be collected, which again makes Lima the perfect fit for investigations of all shapes and sizes.

To put this into context let’s take ‘a blue patterned shirt’ recovered from a crime scene as a working example.

Lima gives you the option to log forensic tests that need completing on this item, with the ability to record other vital information such as the name of the scientist or investigator who undertook the test, the start date and time, and the equipment used to conduct the testing.

You also have the ability to enter other vital case details and information into Lima, bringing all of your evidence together in one place. This can include results from DNA swabs, trace evidence, and item photographs, to name but a few.

What’s really great is that you can even add a ‘person’ as an ‘evidence type’, so in the example of a pathologist undertaking a post-mortem, Lima allows you to capture a host of additional data which may be pertinent to the investigation, such as identity checks, financial checks and criminal records checks.

4. Continuity and Chain of Custody

An incredibly important element for completing forensic investigations is continuity and chain of custody. Each time a piece of evidence is moved around the laboratory, whether it’s handed from one individual to another or from one location to another, every single action can be tracked with Lima via the Chain of Custody log.

The Chain of Custody log provides you with an overview of the time the item was moved, the user that orchestrated the change, whether or not the item it was accepted by an individual, and a description of the item. Accountability is essential in forensics and Lima allows you to track the entire investigation.

5. Case Timeline

Another feature of Lima v2.9 is the ability to record the precise time taken to conduct each aspect of analytical activity. This is makes Lima v2.9 a particularly useful management information (MI) tool, as it can be utilised to assess efficiency in the workplace.

The beauty of this feature is that there is really no limit to the sort of information that you can record, making Lima v2.9 completely customisable to your unit and your investigation.

This feature is also incredibly granular – if you have a broad investigation with many different elements in a variety of forensic disciplines, you can associate these entries with evidence items. This would allow you to really hone in on information about the exhibit that specific forensic activities are carried out for.

6. Case Tasks

For bigger and more complex investigations, Lima v2.9 provides you with the option to assign tasks to your colleagues, again a feature that’s completely trackable in Lima. This feature allows you to assign tasks cross-departmentally, which is incredibly useful for large-scale operations.

Lima v2.9 also provides you with a very clear status over whether a task is complete, overdue or in progress. Additionally, the subject field in this feature also allows you to provide details about what each tasks entails.

7. Quality

Quality is fundamental aspect of any forensic investigation, which is why Lima v2.9 provides each case record with its own quality-recording feature. Here, you can record all of the quality assurance and peer review activity that has been completed on any one case, and you also have the option to create your own record if you have self-assessed your own work.

If the peer-review has been completed by a colleague or by your manager, they can enter the Case Quality feature and record their quality entry. You can associate this with different evidence items, ranging from validation checks on digital items to quality checks on reports or statements produced by an analyst.

8. Generated Materials

Once quality has validated that all evidence is correct and accurate, you can then create a report that is provided to the client or the officer in the investigation. Here you will be able to record and create a log of your reporting and statements, and essentially this is the end product that you will be delivering to your client.

Here you have the ability to generate your technical report. Another fundamental element of Lima v2.9 is that you can attach that report to the entry. This enables you to continue to keep a log of your reporting statements and means that you don’t have to keep various pieces of information on your desktop, your network or your shared drive. Lima v2.9’s holistic overview enables you to store all of your information, evidence and reporting in one easily-accessible place.

9. Disposal

Once you’ve generated your report and completed your analysis, the case is ready to be closed. Before doing this, you must return the materials and exhibits back to the customer, or in the case of the police, the case officer.
This can also be reported and tracked in Lima v2.9 by the Disposal tool. It’s a mirror of the Collection record, but has been created to manage the dispatch of evidence back to the end client or the service user.

10. Archive

In the final step of the end-to-end process and upon completion of a case, you will need to retain an archive of data. You can either hold the data on site or return the archive to the customer for them to retain themselves.

In either case, this step is pivotal for recording and managing the data archive record. This again can be recorded in full transparency, encompassing on-site movement within your own lab or facility as well as movement between locations.

You also have the ability to choose what type of archive you want to keep – whether it’s a working, master or defence copy. By setting the original archive date and the upcoming verification date, you are then able to ensure that the data is still intact and still present. You also have the ability to create tasks for any future verification checks as well, and because of this quality standard and full chain of custody, you can also maintain a log of any previous verifications that have been completed.

 

To find out more about how Lima can manage workflows in your organisation, Tel: +44 (0) 247 77 17780 to speak with a member of our team or Book a Demo today.

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I can honestly say that your excellent customer service and communication has made our forensic instructions to you exceptionally easy. I am very conscious of the amount of time I must have taken up with various queries, requests, and then changed requests but you have always been very patient, polite and extremely helpful.

Case Review Manager - Criminal Cases Review Commission