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Important Practices Police Must Know About Seizing Digital Evidence

Every police officer must know how to properly seize digital evidence and protect its authenticity and integrity for further case proceedings.
by Sidra Jabeen Updated on May 23, 2022

Digital evidence is everywhere for police officers!

In 2020, Holt conducted a survey on how well police officers recognize digital evidence and its seizing procedures on the field?

He found out that:

“Not all officers know exactly what to look for. 76% of officers believe that digital evidence could be anywhere on the scene, and 50% believe to seize all electronic devices immediately at the crime scene”.

It can be a long and tedious process for them to seize vast amounts of digital evidence timely.

Proper seizing while protecting digital evidence is also a major concern for them.

However, considering the best practices for seizing digital evidence can save them.

Every police officer must know how to properly seize digital evidence and protect its authenticity and integrity for further case proceedings.

Do you want to know some of the best practices for seizing digital evidence?

VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System for evidence storage infographic

Role of Police Officers in Evidence Collection

Digital evidence could be any piece of information stored on digital devices in the form of images, audio clips, videos, text documents, emails etc.

Whenever an incident happens, police officers are the first responders at the crime site. They are responsible for collecting, seizing, and preserving digital evidence.

Therefore, all police officers must be trained enough to collect and seize digital evidence using correct seizing procedures.

The Process of Seizing Digital Evidence: How Is It Done?

It is critical for all police officers to carefully manipulate digital evidence after its collection to ensure it is available for the judicial process.

The rapid growth of digital evidence creates significant challenges for them to collect and seize digital evidence within a limited time.

The most important concern is to prevent digital devices containing digital evidence from alteration and destruction.

Most electronic devices containing digital evidence are vulnerable to damage during the handling process. The seizing process follows a step-by-step approach.

  • Secure the Scene: The initial step is to secure the scene first as early as possible. Make sure unauthorized persons cannot access the scene.
  • Assessment of the Scenario: Create a photographic report of the scene. Keep all electronic devices secure and start processing digital evidence.
  • Document the Scene: After collecting relevant digital evidence, document and keep the record of the location and original conditions of devices according to legal procedures.

Best Practices for Seizing Digital Evidence

Now, the question arises of whether police officers are well-trained to collect and handle digital evidence securely?

Are there any best practices for seizing digital evidence?

Police officers must follow the practices discussed below:

Ensure Proper Collection of Digital Evidence

At the crime site, police officers collect digital evidence, gather digital evidence from various sources such as CCTV footage, captured photographs etc.

While conducting criminal investigations, police officers must collect and protect digital evidence from alteration or deletion.

Prevent Data Manipulation

To keep the evidence safe and secure, try to prevent data manipulation in the electronic device. If the device is off, then it should be kept powered off. Contrary to this, take a picture of the screen quickly.

Photograph all the connected devices along with power cables and document it as well in a police report.

Preserve Digital Evidence

It is significant to keep track of all the activities performed on digital devices during the process and preserve their integrity and originality to make them admissible in court.

Otherwise, all efforts will be in vain!

The chain of custody reports must be maintained from the time of its collection that shows who has collected, accessed, and handled the data.

This practice helps police officers and prosecutors to prove the authenticity of digital evidence in the court.

Evidence Has Been Seized. Now What?

If you have collected and seized digital evidence, you must be wondering what the next step is?

The next step is very important!

Storage of digital evidence!

You must have powerful software for digital evidence storage and its management.

A complete digital evidence management system must be device agnostic, easy to use, scalable and secure.

It must offer flexible deployment options, integration with different CMS and RMS systems, and secure sharing of digital evidence with other officers.

Most importantly, you need a platform that empowers you to ingest, store, manage, analyze, and share digital evidence within the same system with chain of custody and tamper detection.

Do you know any competent software that offers all these features with top-notch security?

Fortunately for you, we have one that fits in perfectly!

Streamline the Entire Process With VIDIZMO DEMS

VIDIZMO provides IDC MarketScape Recognized Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS) that empowers all police forces and other law enforcement agencies to ingest, store, handle, analyze and share massive amounts of digital evidence.

VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System Portal Display

VIDIZMO DEMS helps police forces to improve their work productivity, saves time and enhances efficiency, resulting in more effective criminal investigation procedures.

Have a look at features provided by VIDIZMO DEMS:

  • Collect digital evidence in the form of images, text documents, videos, and audio clips from a variety of sources such as body-worn cameras, dash-cams, drone cameras etc.

  • Deploy digital files on the commercial cloud, Government Cloud (Azure, AWS), on-premises, or hybrid infrastructure.

  • Organize and categorize digital evidence files with custom attributes, auto-generated tags, and metadata.

  • Add extra security layers with end-to-end restriction, IP address restriction, Role-based access control, SSO integration, and more.

  • Ensure compliance requirements through automatic detection and redaction of sensitive, confidential information shown in digital files.

  • Detect any alteration in digital evidence through SHA Cryptographic value (Tamper Detection).

  • Share digital evidence with other officers and prosecutors within and outside the organization with secure and restricted options such as a number of views, view-only, block downloads, date, and time for expiry links.

  • Create multiple links for each evidence file.

  • Restrict unauthorized access and integrates with SSO identity providers for login such as Okta, OneLogin etc.

  • Transcribe (speech to text) digital files in up to 39+ languages and translate them into more than 50 languages of your choice using artificial intelligence.

And the list goes on.

We offer much more!

Want to explore more features in detail?

LEARN MORE ABOUT VIDIZMO DEMS

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Posted by Sidra Jabeen

Sidra is a Technology Content Strategist at VIDIZMO. Sidra is actively involved in Research. An expert in Digital Evidence Management System Technologies. For Queries, you can email at sidra.jabeen@vidizmo.com

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