Digital evidence may be missed due to fragmented police training and coordination, study warns
There is a risk that crucial digital evidence will be missed or misinterpreted due to a lack of adequate skills and knowledge in law enforcement, a new study warns.
The results underscore the need for ongoing training for police officers who regularly rely on digital evidence in their investigations.
A lack of national coordination in the implementation of the recently introduced digital media investigator role to advise on the use of digital evidence has led to ambiguities over role assignments, fragmented training provision and a rushed recruitment into the role.
Experts also found that the increased demand for digital evidence processing and the isolation of digital forensic units from operational police units may lead to few opportunities for sustained collaboration or sharing of expertise between officers and officers. digital forensic practitioners.
The study, published in the journal Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management was conducted by Dr Dana Wilson-Kovacs and her team at the University of Exeter, who used ethnographic interviews and observations to collect testimonials from digital media investigators, digital forensic practitioners, senior investigators and officers and forensic pathologists.
Digital media investigators have specialized skills in telecommunications, open source, video surveillance and cell phone analysis. They investigate digital crime in a constrained budget policing landscape and rapidly changing technical environment. Participants spoke about the challenges of being a digital media investigator, including organizational tensions regarding the collection, processing, interpretation and use of information from digital devices for evidence.
The study shows that there are tensions between the widespread recognition of the investigative potential of this work and the difficulties of coordinating activities and digital technical awareness among base officers. Some digital media investigators must juggle their existing workloads with acquiring and maintaining technical skills, which can result in an uneven supply of digital expertise.
The analysis focused on four of the 43 forces in England and Wales, covering a large rural area, a metropolitan area and several cathedral towns.
Participants observed how early recruitment “pushed” officers into the role and described the forces as being more eager to fill the number of training slots provided by the Home Office, rather than rigorously testing candidates. This has led some to opt for the program to gain digital expertise for their own cases and subsequently to step down from digital media investigator duties due to professional pressures and a lack of professional guidance and training. support for continuing education. In some forces, budgetary pressures that involved the use of a digital media investigator had to be justified on a case-by-case basis.
Many interviewees said they are hopeful that the entire workforce could improve their skills to cope with the demands raised by the digital aspects of surveys. Problems that prevented it included: a lack of training, unease with digital processes and reluctance to engage in digital technologies, a lack of support from seniors and, in some cases, a preference for continue to work in the traditional lines of inquiry.
Most interviewees welcomed the idea of ââan accreditation process for DMI activities, believing that it would help set standards and formally recognize their achievements.
Dr Wilson-Kovacs said: âThe growing need for digital expertise in criminal investigations means that this work cannot be limited to just supporting the specialist digital forensics service. Although the introduction of the role of digital media investigator is an important and indispensable step, a more systematic approach is needed to consolidate the understanding of where digital evidence can be found, what it can involve. and the mechanisms by which they can be extracted and interpreted. and at the national level. ”
Efforts to Accelerate Police Digital Forensic Analysis Must Be More Effective, Study Finds
Dana Wilson-Kovacs, Digital Media Investigators: Challenges and Opportunities in Using Digital Forensics in Police Investigations in England and Wales, Police: an international newspaper (2021). DOI: 10.1108 / PIJPSM-02-2021-0019
Provided by the University of Exeter
Quote: Digital evidence may be missed due to fragmented police training and coordination, according to study (2021, September 17) retrieved September 17, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/ 2021-09-digital-evidence-fragmented-police .html
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