Matt Eardley, Adam Kaplan, Audio Forensics
Restoring voices on recordings, deciphering a crucial conversation in a major case or disguising voices to protect the vulnerable and undercover officers is all part of a day’s work for a team of two.
Like an archaeologist who excavates a site to uncover precious artefacts, the audio forensic team peel away background noise, music and interference layer by layer to reveal the voices and evidence on recordings.
Matthew Eardley and Adam Kaplan head up the audio forensics team based at Forensic Services HQ and have recently helped secure a nine-year conviction for a rapist after deciphering a recording that proved the offender’s guilt.
Adam Kaplan, explains: “The offender had called a taxi and didn’t realise the call was being recorded. On the recording you could hear the hold music and hear voices in the background, but you couldn’t hear what was being said.
“We were able to remove the music leaving only the speech. It was a really complicated piece of work but what was said on that recording helped to add evidential weighting to the case."
The team delve into the world of CID and counter terrorism and have helped officers decipher and improve the clarity of audio recorded during major covert operations.
They can authenticate recordings for disclosure and integrity, looking for abnormalities such as malicious editing, signal discontinuities, signs of tampering or doctoring.
They’ve supported officers by uncovering vital pieces of audio evidence and continually support on going investigations and operations including historic cases.
Adam and Matt have access to specialist equipment but also rely on their hearing to perform their role. To ensure their hearing is in tip top condition they have to undertake an annual hearing test.
Adam, who is trained in clinical audiology, the study of speech and hearing, said: “We can be working with really poor quality recordings with terrible audio and we need to make it the best it can be without changing what is being said. We start by stripping out the background noises and work from there.
“You have to be a good listener to do this line of work; you have to be able to pick up on what is being said so it’s really important to be aware of the limitations of your hearing capabilities.
“We listen to hours and hours of audio and our job is to screen for quality and quantity and we pride ourselves on being able to find things that officers can’t. It’s like sifting for gold."
We've launched an interactive game where you can play the role of the forensic scene investigator. You will be transported into a crime scene and will help to crack the crime. To play the game visit West Midlands Police Facebook page.