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New digital forensic technology helps improve support for rape victims

New digital forensic technology helps improve support for rape victims

South Wales Police continues its role out of state-of-the-art technology which allows officers to examine the phones of rape victims far quicker than has ever been previously possible.

The investment comes as the force continues to implement Operation Soteria, a new approach to investigating rape.

https://www.south-wales.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/media/images/south-wales/news/news-images/2023/09-medi-september/digital-forensics-kiosks-eng.mp4

As part of this initiative the Home Office, through its Transforming Forensics Programme, has purchased cutting-edge technology to improve support for victims of rape and sexual assault and their experience of dealing with the police during an extremely traumatic time.

The specialist kit, which is being deployed across the force area includes mobile laboratories and ruggedised laptops which enables the examination of victim’s devices at a location that is suitable to them. It also allows for targeted and specific searches in a timely way – limiting how long victims must then spend without their mobile.

Forces where this technology is already in use are reporting significant reductions in the amount of time spent examining mobile devices. While approximately 36% are now being returned to their owners at the crime scene, even more are having them returned within 24 hours. 

Detective Superintendent Phil Sparrow said:

“This is a significant programme of joint work with our partners, which involves looking at the whole criminal justice system to identify where improvements can be made. Rape and sexual abuse can have lifelong consequences for the victim.

Together we want to make sure we do all that we can to ensure those who commit these are dealt with quickly and effectively and that victims receive the very best collective service possible.

The funding we’ve received to purchase this technology is very much welcomed and will undoubtedly help us to achieve that aim.”

More about our mobile phone examination.

  • Mobile phone examination kiosks are custom-made devices containing specialist software that enables trained police officers and staff to view information stored on a mobile phone or tablet.
  • The early identification of evidence on a device can significantly enhance our ability to protect vulnerable people.
  • It provides investigators with lines of enquiry they can follow, quicker than previous processes would allow.
  • Kiosks allow for a targeted search to be conducted on a device using specific criteria such as Date, Time, Telephone number.
  • They can also allow for a search within areas of a device like text messages or photographs.
  • We will only examine a digital device where there is a legal basis and where it is necessary, justified and proportionate to the incident or crime under investigation.
  • If evidence is identified on a device, lines of enquiry can be progressed much earlier. The device will be submitted to a Digital Forensics Hub for further examination and preparation for court.
  • The examination process allows the trained operator to view information stored within the device, however all information is securely deleted from the cyber kiosk at the end of each examination. 

 Here’s more information on the extraction and management of data from digital devices. 

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