More than 300 digital devices waiting to be examined by South Yorkshire Police

Hundreds of digital devices are still waiting to be examined by investigators in South Yorkshire newly released figures have shown.

Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 5:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th April 2020, 4:01 pm
South Yorkshire Police

The Police Federation of England and Wales said officers are ‘overwhelmed’ by the amount of digital evidence they are faced with, warning mounting workloads are a result of forces struggling to attract new detectives.

The newly published data shows 370 devices were awaiting examination by South Yorkshire investigators. Across England and Wales, a total of 12,122 devices were awaiting examination.

Although there is no local breakdown of what devices are being held, the most common items nationally include computers, tablets and phones.

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These can be used to check messages, photographs, emails or social media accounts as part of an investigation.

Simon Kempton, federeation technology lead, said: “Investigators are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of digital evidence.

“Forces are struggling to attract new detectives which is resulting in mounting workloads. There is also a need for forces to invest in technology which can help speed up this process by extracting and sorting this data automatically.”

Detective Inspector Iain Rawlins, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “Like every force in the country, we have devices awaiting examination.

“The majority of investigations involve the examination of devices.

“We prioritise the examination of these devices based on different criteria and have a system of managing the volume of devices awaiting examination.

“We are currently reviewing staffing within our digital forensics department to increase our capacity moving forward.”

A study by civil liberties group Big Brother Watch in 2017 found 93 per cent of police forces in the UK extract data from digital devices seized as evidence from suspects, victims and witnesses.

A new Forensic Capability Network was launched last month to create a more unified approach between police forces.

Deputy Chief Constable Nick Baker, National Police Chiefs' Council digital forensics lead , said it would help reduce the size of the backlog.