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New Report:

Managing digital evidence hindered by incompatible and outdated systems

OPEN 13th November 2018Policing Insight team

CoPaCC DEM User Perspectives Report Landscape cover 800x533

In the latest report from the CoPaCC National Police ICT User Survey 2018, officers and staff share the challenges they face in managing digital evidence. A story of unreliable and incompatible systems, insufficient data bandwidth forcing the use of physical media plus a shortage of skills and resources, all against a backdrop of ever increasing volumes of evidence required for disclosure. Read the results and analyses here in the CoPaCC Digital Evidence Management: User Perspectives Report.

CoPaCC launches the Digital Evidence Management: User Perspectives report, a fascinating insight into the challenges faced by officers and staff in dealing with the increasing demands of sourcing, processing and sharing digital evidence to build criminal cases.

We do not have adequate systems to be able to receive and handle electronic evidence at all

Inspector, neighbourhood policing in a small rural force

The report provides results and analyses from two new questions added to the 2018 CoPaCC National Police ICT User Survey the ask about the challenges and planned police force investment in Digital Evidence Management . The questions were developed in partnership with NICE Public Safety, suppliers of digital evidence management solutions.

The survey received responses for these two additional questions from 3599 officers and staff who also provided over 900 specific comments on their experiences.

Challenges faced by the frontline

The first question asked was “Collecting, analysing and sharing growing volumes of digital evidence for investigations is becoming increasingly challenging. Which of these present challenges for your force?”. Officers and staff were able multi-select from the following options and comment on their experiences:

  • Crowd sourcing photos and video evidence from the public
  • Manually collecting evidence on site (such as CCTV video)
  • Redacting video
  • Converting proprietary CCTV video into a playable format
  • Logging on to multiple systems to pull evidence for investigators
  • Assembling digital evidence into a timeline
  • Knowing when new digital evidence has been added to a case
  • Sharing evidence electronically with prosecutors
  • None of the above options

The feedback from officers and staff indicated that all were significant challenges but the standout pain points for police forces were in collecting, converting and sharing digital evidence with over 50% of respondents indicating that these were the top three challenges in their force. 

A PCSO from a small rural force says “Not enough encrypted USB sticks to go around and viewing station is always broke.”

“One of the issues is the CPS and our force having a different computer system. When we send them things it can be challenging as it is not always clear they have everything. Sometimes you turn up at court and the solicitor will not have everything you have sent on their system.” complains a detective sergeant from a large urban force.

A police staff member also working in CID says “Tasks on Niche are often missed – it would be better to receive emails. The 1MB limit on digital items sent over CJIT is incredibly limiting and I have to email documents on 90% of the case files I send.”

An inspector working neighbourhood policing in a small rural force sums up his dissatisfaction concisely; “We do not have adequate systems to be able to receive and handle electronic evidence at all”

Plans for investment

The second question was “Does your force plan to invest in technology to enable it to better manage digital evidence in the future?”. Respondents were directed to only provide an answer if they had that specific knowledge. They were asked to select one answer from the following options:

  • Yes, within the next six months
  • Yes, within the next year
  • Yes, within the next two years
  • Yes, within the next five years
  • No
  • I do not know

Unsurprisingly most respondents did not have the direct knowledge and answered “I do not know” but those that did respond indicated that most police forces are prioritising investment in digital evidence management in the very near future and makes for reassuring reading that UK forces are recognising the issues raised by officers and staff.

 CoPaCC DEM User Perspectives Report Landscape cover 800x533Digital Evidence Management: User perspectives
 A CoPaCC Thematic Report                                                         
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For in depth views from the frontline on all round police ICT provision read the CoPaCC Police ICT: User Perspectives report

Cover - Police ICT User Perspectives 2018 Police ICT: User perspectives
 A CoPaCC Thematic Report                                                         
 Subscribers click here to download                                  

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Alternatively, you may already have subscriber access via your organisation – just register/log in using a valid email address from your organisation and you will be automatically upgraded if there is a subscription in place.

Most UK police forces/OPCCs already have an organisation wide subscription so many police officers and staff already enjoy free access.

You might also already have free access if you are an academic studying/researching in policing and criminology, with most relevant UK institutions in this sector having organisation wide subscriptions in place. 

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CoPaCC produced the Digital Evidence Management: User Perspectives report in partnership with NICE Public Safety; find out more about managing digital evidence at their summit in 2019 (Click for more info):

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