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Police professional | “Paradigm shift” in digital survey as MPS announces new collaboration

“Paradigm shift” in digital survey as MPS announces new collaboration

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPS) will transform the way it deals with crimes involving computers, smartphones and other devices after announcing a collaboration agreement with a major developer of digital investigative software.

August 9, 2021

By Tony Thompson

The force has partnered with Magnet Forensics, a developer of digital survey software, who have created a new product that can speed up digital surveys and data analysis by a factor of three and enable non-technical investigators to take support more cases.

The rapid proliferation of digital devices and investigative-relevant data has put pressure on law enforcement agencies around the world, creating backlogs in digital forensic labs, delaying cases and putting justice at risk. The highly technical nature of traditional digital forensic tools limits collaboration between digital forensic examiners and non-technical investigators, who have the full context of cases.

The new system, delivered through Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service, is known as Magnet REVIEW. The platform allows investigators to access and examine digital forensic evidence such as photos, discussion logs and documents through an easy-to-use interface via a web browser.

The platform also allows investigators to collaborate remotely with technical staff from the digital forensic laboratory and other units, while maintaining the forensic integrity of the evidence.

Darren Scates, chief technology officer at MPS, said, “The Met is committed to being a leader in the digital transformation of the police. Our collaboration with Magnet Forensics and Microsoft aims to ensure that digital evidence critical to investigations is examined in a simple, fast, efficient and secure manner to ensure justice is served.

“Our digital forensic evidence review process is undergoing a paradigm shift with the introduction of Magnet REVIEW. “

The new system will eventually replace an obsolete but standard operating procedure common to many police services around the world: forensic specialists carry out their examination and export the results to USB keys or CD-ROMs, which are often left unsecured, that non-technical investigators can view only after going to the digital forensics lab and waiting for a workstation to become available. The results of various digital forensic tools are different, technical in nature and often require additional assistance from an examiner. These inefficiencies lead to delays in investigations and prosecutions.

The MPS said the system will allow it to:

  • Data analysis and complete investigations up to three times faster, allowing non-technical investigators to take on more cases;
  • Build trust by returning devices to victims and witnesses faster;
  • Dramatically reduce costs and inefficiencies such as external media to store evidence and reduce the risk of corruption and data breach; and
  • Enjoy the increased security, remote accessibility, and infrastructure maintenance savings that cloud deployment will provide.

Magnet Forensics Chief Executive Officer Adam Belsher said: “Time is wasted physically transporting devices, waiting for digital forensics specialists to be available for a review and to report the results back to the officer in charge of the investigation. This has led to significant backlogs which ultimately jeopardize the pursuit of justice.

“Developed in conjunction with the Met, Magnet REVIEW enables investigators to remotely review critical digital evidence in their cases, leverage analytical tools for faster access, and collaborate with digital forensic laboratories and other stakeholders.

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