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news round-up 5.5.17

(Posted on 08/05/17)


Forensic Science Regulator calls for Legal Aid rise

Additional legal aid funding is needed to help Defence lawyers meet new digital forensics standards.

“We need to fund forensic science properly and it needs to be funded from the centre,” Dr Gillian Tully told the Forensics Europe Expo in London. “It needs to be funded so that there’s appropriate money to achieve [these] standards.”

Computer, phone and data technological advances in police investigation have coincided with the closure of the Forensic Science Service, the Guardian reported last week.

Although standards are working well for traditional forensics test such as DNA or fingerprints, according to Peter Sommer, Professor of Digital Forensics at Birmingham City University, “computers and mobile phones are complex scenes of crime. It’s not just a DNA match. People are being asked to show evidence of planning, of bad character and of a course of action. It requires a lot expert interpretation.

“In the digital world, things change all the time; the tools need constant updating… If you haven’t been able to carry out a test, the paedophile, terrorist or extortionist may go free.”

Dr Tully highlighted cell site analysis, by which the location of mobile phones can be established, and the precision of which is open to challenge and interpretation in court.

ACC Richard Berry, lead officer for the National Police Chiefs’ Council on digital investigation, noted the emerging threat of digital medical crime: 

“You can have loss of data, really sensitive hacks into medical technology. Issues of security are not being considered in product development. Your crime scene may be distributed data. We have implanted devices under people’s skin which can [be made to cause] harm. There’s an app, that scares me to death, that monitors pacemakers. The protocol in the app is Bluetooth [wireless technology]. It can break into Bluetooth at 1,000 yards.” 

Berry added that demand for tracking down IP addresses has grown exponentially, with one national intelligence agency already receiving 90,000 requests this year compared with 17,000 in 2015. 

Time pressures to comply with new digital forensics standards could result in “a bit of a car crash” if Defence firms are not ready, Dr Tully told the conference.