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
They 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 police. 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 best practices for seizing digital evidence?
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?
The rapid growth of digital evidence creates significant challenges for them to collect and seize digital evidence within a limited time.
Law enforcement officers, such as patrol officers, detectives, or investigators, have the legal authority to be present at a crime scene and seize all types of evidence, including images, audio, clips, videos, documents, emails, and all the evidence present in hard drives.
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.
Identify Potential Digital Evidence:Law enforcement officers need to recognize potential digital devices that could contain digital evidence, including computers, mobile devices, storage devices, digital cameras, and other electronic devices.
- Secure the Area:
The area where the digital evidence is located needs to be secured to prevent tampering or destruction of the evidence. This may involve cordoning off the area, restricting access to the location, and preventing unauthorized personnel from entering.
- Document the Evidence:
Law enforcement officers should document the digital evidence in detail, including the make and model of the device that contains digital evidence, any serial numbers or unique identifiers, and any other relevant information. Photographs and notes should be taken to ensure a detailed evidence record is maintained.
- Seize the Evidence:
The digital evidence should be seized. This means using specialized personnel to ensure that the digital evidence is not altered or destroyed and does not access by any unauthorized individual during the seizure process.
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, and 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.
Transport and Store Evidence
The digital evidence should be transported to a secure system and stored in a controlled environment to prevent any further tampering or destruction.
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 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 and management of digital evidence!
Most importantly, you need a platform that empowers you to ingest, store, manage, analyze, and share digital evidence within the same system with a chain of custody and tamper detection to maintain the integrity of your evidence.
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 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 the features provided by VIDIZMO DEMS:
- Collect digital evidence in the form of images, text documents, videos, and audio clips from various sources such as body-worn cameras, dash-cams, drone cameras, hard drives etc.
- To ensure the highest level of protection for your digital evidence, VIDIZMO DEMS has a robust set of security features and functions that provide end-to-end security and privacy.
- Organize and categorize digital evidence files with custom attributes, auto-generated tags, and metadata.
- Detect any alteration in digital evidence through SHA Cryptographic value (Tamper Detection).
- Ensure compliance requirements through automatic detection and redaction of sensitive, confidential information shown in digital files.
- 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.
- Deploy digital files on the commercial cloud, Government Cloud (Azure, AWS), on-premises, or hybrid infrastructure.
- Add extra security layers with end-to-end restriction, IP address restriction, Role-based access control, SSO integration, and more.
Not only this, VIDIZMO offers much more!
Want to explore more features in detail?
Why don’t you sign up for a free demo?
The proper seizing and handling of digital evidence are crucial for police officers in order to ensure the integrity and authenticity of the evidence for use in legal proceedings. Police officers must be trained in the best practices for collecting and securing digital evidence. Platforms like VIDIZMO DEMS can streamline the entire process and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of criminal investigations.