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Police work is being hampered by poor data

data woman
(Image credit: Future)

With the rise of digital platforms and services, the evidence used in criminal investigations is becoming increasingly digital. This makes the speed at which digital evidence is gathered, sorted and analyzed crucial.

However, a new report from digital intelligence company Cellebrite asserts that policing agencies are still “struggling to keep pace, process and analyze digital evidence quickly and effectively”.

The paper is based on a poll of 2,000 agency managers, investigators, analysts and forensic examiners working in law enforcement. It reveals that investigators spend an average of 48 hours every week reviewing photos, recorded videos and text messages from devices, as well as CCTV and security video footage.

It takes approximately five to seven days for the investigators to receive the data and an initial report from lab examiners.

At the same time, digital evidence is growing in importance. It plays a role in almost two-thirds (63 percent) of all investigations, with smartphones being the source of evidence in 96 percent of those cases, Windows computers in 52 percent, feature phones in 45 percent and tablets in 39 percent. 

Even newer technologies such as wearables and cryptocurrencies come into play in some investigations.

“Law enforcement’s ability to lawfully access locked devices continues to slow down investigations," said Mark Gambill, EVP at Cellebrite. 

“And, we were not at all surprised to see the importance of digital evidence to solving crimes clearly reflected in the data, as well as new technologies such as crypto and wearables playing a role in advancing investigations. Agency managers, investigators, analysts and forensic examiners didn’t have any respite last year and the situation is about to worsen as crime rates, particularly violent crime, are rising quickly across major metropolitan areas across the world.”