During 2012, Cleveland Police Mobile Phone Examination Unit (MPEU) received 359 ‘phones for “full forensic examination.”
The devices had already been through an acceptance criteria based on Home Office-approved scoring for prioritisation.
From January to August 2014, MEPU has already received 1,053 devices. The unit estimates it will receive 1,579 ‘phones this year. This represents a 440% increase in the past two years.
As a result, the backlog for mobile ‘phone examination currently stands at approximately 130 devices, of which 23 of those relate to priority investigations It would take two to three months to clear this backlog at current rates of demand.
The new system will bring in touch screen forensic mobile kiosks, which will form the basis of an “accredited triage system.”
The system will fast track key evidence, reducing the backlog and pressure on the MEPU. In turn, this will enable the unit to cope with the predicted increasing and unprecedented demand for mobile ‘phone examination.
It will allow authorised officers 24/7 access to forensic ‘phone examination services for the purposes of confirming the presence of intelligence and evidential data stored on the device when it came into police possession.
The risk is that the force will be unable to cope with the demand for the service and time-critical intelligence and evidence will be lost in the current backlog of work. As a result, this could potentially damage the reputation of the force through adverse publicity.
The PCC has approved £109K for a forensic mobile ‘phone examination system in 2014/15.