With the aim of tackling militancy and solving cases with no evidence, the Police Headquarters is planning to use a state-of-the-art technology for interrogation of suspects.
Police are looking to have an investigative tool called iCognative, made by a US company, said counterterrorism officials. Bangladesh will be the tenth country to have this device, they added.
According to the officials, iCognative is not the lie detector that involves interrogation in which a suspect is asked a series of questions.
Besides, in lie detection, the suspect’s physiological or autonomic characteristics, like blood pressure and heart and respiration rates, are measured to identify whether he or she is telling the truth or not.
But iCognative can find out whether the information under test is present in the suspect’s brain or not, with more than 99 percent success, officials say.
In the current practice, police collect information from suspects through question and answer after presenting the facts and evidence found in investigation.
During the interrogation, officers record the suspect’s statement, under section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), but that is not admissible before the court as evidence, a former district judge, requesting anonymity told The Daily Star on August 26.
Besides, the suspects often brought allegations against law enforcers that they were forced to give statements in custody, said a high official working for the counterterrorism unit of DMP.
“But the new technology will help detect involvement of suspects in the crime and what they saying are true or false. The test result can be submitted to the court as corroborative evidence,” he told this correspondent, wishing anonymity.
“We face problem quizzing militant suspects. They do not divulge much information during interrogation as they are trained. This issue can be solved now.”
It will also help save time in investigation, added the official.
Md Raisul Hoque Rahat, head of sales and marketing of Digital Security Solutions (DSS), a company that provides different security products, said four countries in Asia already use the technology. They are India, Pakistan, Malaysia and Dubai.
DSS recently proposed the Police Headquarters to supply iCognative. The minimum cost for the device is eight lakh US dollar, said Rahat.
Counterterrorism officials said a team from the US company, Brainwave Science, recently visited Bangladesh and demonstrated how to use the technology.
Another high official, who was present during the demonstration, said a suspect will be given a wireless headset, which uses sensors to collect brain responses from the scalp and muscle movements.
Then the investigators will present a series of crime or event specifics, words, phrases, or pictures flashed on a computer screen in front of the suspect, he said, requesting anonymity.
The brain responses of the suspect to those words, phrases or pictures will be analysed to determine whether the information provided by the suspect is true or false.
However, there is one problem in using the device, said the official.
Too much mobile network frequencies in Bangladesh will create obstacles to receiving brain waves from the sensors, and a soundproof room will be needed for the test, he said.
“Besides, we have to create a dummy crime scene every time if we want to interrogate suspects with the device, or else it would be difficult to get accurate results,” said the official.
“For this reason, we need to keep several big rooms or select some spots to recreate crime scenes to interrogate suspects.”
Md Omar Faruk, associate professor of Criminology and Police Science department of Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University, welcomes the initiatives of police.
But, he said, if the device is not operated by an expert, it will yield no result.
The person who will operate it must have both technical and medical knowledge. No one can handle this just having some trainings, he added.
“I doubt if the Bangladesh police have that expertise.”
Tanvir Momtaz, assistant inspector general (equipment) at the Police Headquarters, told The Daily Star that they are working to strengthen police by adding modern devices.
“Recently, we have conducted an experiment on iCognative but we did not finalise the purchase yet, as we are facing some difficulties to use it because of network frequencies in the country,” he said.
“We are working to overcome the difficulties and then we would take decision.”
The Police Headquarters is also working to get a total containment vehicle (TCV), a unique bomb disposal van and a storage house, according to counterterrorism officials.
The TCV is mainly used in carrying highly powerful explosives to a safe place so that nearby structures or innocents are not harmed while defusing those.
The bomb disposal van will have all the equipment like jammer, x-ray machine and detector, and officials can move by it quickly.
The storage house is where recovered explosives can be stored and bombs can be defused.