Best Practices in Digital Evidence Management

National Police Training
August 7, 2013 — 4,512 views  
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Discovering evidence is an important element for law enforcement personnel as it is the basis for a prosecution or defense. Several years ago, evidence was in the form of tangible items such as clothing and accessories which had to be analyzed through a series of forensics. With the advent of technology, digital evidence has become the focus for many law enforcement departments to discover key pieces of information related to a crime. There has been a growing trend in digital evidence with many law enforcement departments increasing their computer forensic personnel.

In this modern age, more than half the world’s population has access to a mobile phone with a camera. When a crime scene is being investigated, apart from the law enforcement personnel on site, there is a possibility that many of the civilians in the area would have taken a picture or a video of the scenario. This creates a problem for law enforcement departments. Now they will not only have to worry about capturing evidence but also collecting, enhancing, and controlling it. All of this requires a system and management policies to regulate audio, video, and photo evidence. Here are some best practices that are directed towards efficient digital evidence management.

Electronic Media Discovery

Electronic media discovery is important for law enforcement departments as the nature and volume of digital evidence that is generated by businesses and individuals increases the risk or opportunities of detection. Electronic information has a digital signature that can be traced or recovered in case certain programs try to erase it. These programs also create copies of this information without the knowledge of the users. Also, large businesses tend to create back-ups of their information so that in case of any system failures, the data can be easily retrieved. 

To create a sound digital evidence management system, you must make sure that you have a clear understanding of your client’s computer system. This includes detecting any electronic information that could be related to the client, such as office disks or hard drives, desktops, laptops, portable devices, server network files, and back-ups of the files. Digital management practices also include training the employees about electronic media retention. Some of the big companies have retention policies that include permanent erasure of certain records after a period of time. This even includes archived files and back-ups. Digital management systems also keep a track of the procedure in which information is stored and how information that should be deleted is treated.

Care and Diligence in Electronic Discovery

To have an effective digital evidence management system, it is important to know that certain information with regard to the client is confidential. This information should not be handed over without prior approval from the managing head. It is important that any information in the business should not be tampered or altered as this amounts to spoiliation. If litigation is in process, it is important to make sure that the company’s deleting policy is discontinued pursuant to the ordinary course of business. 

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