Digital evidence in investigative and evaluative proceedings

Date: Monday 04 May 2020, 2.00PM
Location: ONLINE
Section Group Meeting

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This event will now take place online: login details will be sent to those registered in due course 

Registration will close at midday on Friday 1 May

About the event:

Data extracted from various digital media and devices, so-called digital evidence, is being used increasingly often at all stages of the criminal process, from investigation to evaluation at trial. Critical voices call for a better understanding of the capabilities, limitations and challenges of this emerging type of evidence. Besides general process features and managerial issues such as caseload, backlog, time and other resource constraints, lawyers and judges also need knowledge and understanding of how to question the potential probative value of digital evidence. In turn, forensic scientists need a clear view of how to assess digital evidence in a transparent, balanced and robust manner. These topics raise the question of what data is needed for securing usability of and trust in digital evidence as a distinct branch of forensic science, and its deployment in particular cases. The collection and analysis of relevant data in this area, as well as case studies, thus offer new opportunities for collaboration between forensic scientists, lawyers and statisticians. This afternoon seminar brings together key academics and practitioners who work at the intersection between forensic science, digital evidence and the law. They share their perspectives on the pending challenges that members of the judiciary and academia need to approach now in order to ensure that digital evidence can make reliable contributions in the legal proceedings.

Titles and abstracts:

Dr Gillian Tully: “Risk, Quality Assurance and Innovation in Digital Forensics”

The massive demand for extraction and analysis of data from digital devices has led, in England and Wales, to the evolution of a cottage industry of small units, each using a selection of software tools, extracting data and passing it, largely uninterpreted, to investigators.

Some of these digital forensic units have in place the basic quality assurance measures needed to ensure that the limitations of their work are known and that the provenance, continuity and validity of the data they have extracted can be demonstrated; others do not. Increasingly, front-line police officers with minimal training are carrying out data extraction using self-service “kiosk” technology.

Those analysing the data are often, in this jurisdiction, intelligence analysts or investigators. A lack of methodological robustness in the analysis and interpretation of evidence has resulted in failures to find exculpatory evidence, which was present within the extracted data.

In this presentation, risks and failures in the extraction, analysis and interpretation of digital evidence will be considered alongside the need for process and technology innovation, with a view to achieving sustainable improvement.

Professor Eoghan Casey: “Scientific interpretation of digital evidence”

There is growing concern about misinterpretation of digital evidence, and there is a need to overcome perceived barriers to employing scientific reasoning within a logical Bayesian framework. This talk presents an approach to promoting Case Assessment and Interpretation (CAI) in digital investigations, and to formalising the expression of evaluative opinion in various legal contexts. Associated benefits and challenges are demonstrated through case examples involving tampering of digital evidence.

Matt Tart: “Opinion Evidence in Cell Site Analysis”

Issues concerning forensic inference exist in all areas of Forensic Science, and Cell Site Analysis is no exception. There is a standard concerning opinion evidence adopted by both the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI) and the Association of Forensic Science Providers (AFSP) based on the principles of the Case Assessment and Interpretation (CAI) Model widely used within “traditional” forensic Science. This standard has not been widely adopted, or does not appear to be particularly well known, either within Cell Site Analysis or in the general field of Digital Forensics. This paper is aimed at Cell Site Analysis experts and outlines the legislative and regulatory framework within which opinion in Cell Site Analysis is provided and addresses how the principles defined in the AFSP standard can be applied to Cell Site Analysis. A case example highlighting differences between a task-driven approach commonly used within Cell Site Analysis and a CAI approach to the same data is presented and explored.


There will be three speakers followed by an open discussion:

Dr. Gillian Tully, UK Forensic Science Regulator
Professor Eoghan Casey, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Matt Tart, Principal Scientist, CCL Forensics Ltd., United Kingdom


Organiser Name Amy Wilson

Email Address

Organising Group(s) RSS Statistics and Law Section and The Alan Turing Institute