Failures Involving Digital Forensic Evidence.
A devastating series of failures involving the disclosure of digital forensic evidence stored on smartphones by prosecutors demonstrates that compliance with digital forensic evidence good practice needs to be undertaken as a precursor to matters being brought before a court.
Failure to Disclose
Recent cases before the courts involve a failure to disclose texts and social media messages and this failure has undermined the prosecutions case. The cause of failure being cited is that the overwhelmingly large numbers of electronic evidence items involved precludes a thorough examination and disclosure of all items involved in the matters brought to court.
Most police forces use special purpose “plug and play” facilities to extract data from devices and these are due to be upgraded to incorporate AI technology that will assist in speeding up the forensic examination and reporting processes. As far as disclosure is concerned a revised set of protocols are now to be introduced, whereby all data extracted from evidence items is to be made available to the defence as a matter of course
Difficulties however may be inherent in this protocol as the current situation regarding disclosure protects the privacy of the complainant. A real head scratcher for all concerned !.
Digital Forensic Good Practice.
Forensic Good practice is clearly researched and documented in the ACPO guidelines published by the Association of Chief Police Offices . It would appear that these guidelines either need to be urgently amended or reviewed as to their reference and use . Failures to manage and maintain digital forensic standards appears to be at the heart of the matter and has clearly gone a long way in undermining public confidence in the criminal justice system.