High-level Tech Summit focuses on improvements to disclosure of digital evidence

Government ministers have met with senior police officers and prosecutors at a high-profile summit aimed at improving the disclosure of digital evidence in the criminal justice system. Solicitor General Lucy Frazer QC and policing minister Nick Hurd hosted Max Hill (Director of Public Prosecutions), Metropolitan Police Service assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave, Victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird and representatives from the UK technology industry at The Law Society’s offices in central London.

Attendees focused on the handling of digital evidence disclosure in criminal cases and considered how police and prosecutors can be supported to better handle the increasing volumes of digital evidence and ensure victims ultimately receive the justice they deserve. This included a review of what programmes are currently being used to decipher evidence and also a consideration of technological innovations.

Lucy Frazer QC said: “We need to do more to support the police and prosecutors to adapt to the increasing volume of digital material in the criminal justice system. The Government is also determined to ensure that victims of sexual violence and all other crimes are not deterred from seeking justice because of fear of what could happen to their personal information. We must ensure full public confidence in the disclosure system.”

Nick Hurd responded: “It’s vital that we maintain public confidence in the police and our criminal justice system to make sure victims are not let down. Technological advancements have created challenges – the average mobile phone is now capable of holding the data equivalent of around five million A4 pages. Police services recognise the need to improve and it’s right that the Government works with police forces, prosecutors and the tech sector to make sure both victims and criminals do receive the justice they deserve.”

Disclosure review

The Tech Summit follows on from a disclosure review by the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox in November last year which found that digital evidence wasn’t always handled correctly by police forces and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), thereby leading to concerns about miscarriages of justice.

The review acknowledged that increasing volumes of data stored on smart phones and other devices had significantly increased the workload of investigators and prosecutors examining digital evidence.

Attendees at the Tech Summit also included Mark Gray (CTO at the CPS), Ben Denison (CTO at the Serious Fraud Office), Mark Sweeney (director general of criminal justice policy at the Ministry of Justice), deputy chief constable Janette McCormick from the College of Policing, Melissa Mathieson (head of investigations at the Information Commissioner’s Office) and Jessica Russell (programme manager at Tech UK).

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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