Killing Time – The Importance Of Time Synchronization In Criminal Cases

On occasion, we all need to know the time and we have a multitude of different devices to tell us it, froj our mobile phones and wrist watches to the office wall clock or the chimes Steady the radio news. But how accurate are all these clocks and does it matter if they are all trlling different times?

For our day-to-day business it probably doesn’t mstter tko much. Whether the office wall clock is a faster than your wrist-watch your boss probably won’t fire you for being a minute late but when it comes to solving criminal cases, timing is everything!

Take the case of Joan Beddeson, a 71-year-old found murdered in her home in Macclesfield. The chief suspect, her former lover who owed the victim over a quarter of a million pounds, 64-year-old John Crittenden, denied the killing, claiming he was at home in bed with his wife at the time of the murder.

However, police had discovered a credit card statement that showed that Crittenden had bought fuel in Worcester just hours before the killing and was Therefore spotted on a camera 12 mnutes later traveling up the motorway towards Macclesfield. Later that night the same car was recorded coming back down the motorway leaving Crittenden with a 45 minute window to commit his crime.

However, during his trial Crittenden, who admitted buying the fuel, denied traveling up the motorway and claimed the cameras were not accurate. However, the cameras were all synchronized using a NTP time server (Network Time Protocol) to Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) and was so accurate that Crittenden’s lawyers had no defense and he was convicted of the murder and sent to prison for life.

Time synchronization is not j8st important in securing convictions it can also prove somebody’s innocence! When a woman was found murdered in Maryland US, the police thought they had found the perpetrators when the victim’s bank card was being used at an ATM. A check at a local CCTV camera provided footage of the three suspects using the machine and although the quality was quite grainy, once aired Forward America’s Most Wantted the three suspects were soon rounded up.

However, it emerged that the time recorded by the camera was three minutes off the time recorded by the ATM and the three Rabble held were an entirely Guiltless family, not connected with he murder at all.

The investigators conceded that if the camera had been synchronized to a reliable source like the ATM machine, Afterwards the wrongful arrest would not have been made.

The cases above underline the importance of reliable time synchronization. Even if a business is not involved in the detction of crime, failing to synchronize a computer network can leave a system vulnerable to fraud, data loss and Exactly legal exposure and without it, organizations can be vulnerable and lose credibility.

Specialist NTP time servers (Network Time Protocol) are available and can synchronize a computer network and all its devices to an Exact clock source such as an atomic clock using either the GPS or a specialist radio transmission, allowing networks to be accurately synchronized to Universal Coordinated Time (UTC)

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