Why you need purpose-built tech for managing your cases’ digital evidence
In today’s digital age, the abundance of digital evidence in investigations cannot be overstated. As an investigations or case manager, you’re probably all too familiar with the challenges of managing digital evidence. Not only do you need to ensure that it’s secure, relevant, legitimate, and ethical, but you also need to ensure its easily accessible and presentable should your case eventuate to a court of law.
While managing physical briefs of evidence is as simple as bringing it along, the same can’t be said for digital as the variety of file types and disparate systems make it near impossible to consolidate. That’s why it’s essential that you employ practical ways to manage digital evidence effectively. In this blog, we’ll discuss key strategies and best practices for managing digital evidence in a way that meets your compliance reporting and court-hearing requirements. We’ll cover:
- Digital evidence – what it actually is, where it can be found, and how it’s used
- The biggest challenge of managing digital evidence
- The crucial need for efficiency in investigation management
- The importance of security
- Why it’s essential to manage evidence quality
- What Comtrac has that other case management systems don’t
Let’s get started.
What exactly is digital evidence?
It’s really any type of electronic data or information that can be used as evidence in a legal investigation or court proceedings, including anything from emails and text messages to social media posts, digital images, and video recordings. It can be found on pretty much any device we use today, and it can be stored in a variety of formats, including text, image, audio, and video files.
Digital evidence is often used in criminal investigations, civil lawsuits, cases involving cybercrime and regulatory investigations. We’re also seeing it become more prevalent in a wide range of legal cases. What this means is if you’re involved in legal investigations and court proceedings, you need to have a clear understanding of how to manage digital evidence effectively, including ensuring its security, authenticity, and admissibility in court.
What’s the biggest challenge of managing digital evidence?
You’ve heard the term ‘big data’ – well, this is one of the main issues when it comes to managing digital evidence; the sheer volume of data that must be collected, processed, and stored. Unlike traditional forms of evidence, such as physical documents or witness testimony, digital evidence can come in a wide range of formats and can be stored in various locations, making it difficult to keep track of.
This leads to inefficiencies in the investigation process and can potentially delay legal proceedings. There are also security risks to consider, as digital evidence must be stored securely to prevent unauthorised access or tampering. Not only that, but failure to properly manage digital evidence can result in it being deemed inadmissible in court, potentially undermining the overall quality of the case.
By now, you’ll be aware that traditional means of creating a brief of evidence, such as compiling a physical folder of relevant documents, aren’t up to the task in the digital age. That’s why you need to pivot towards using digital tools and technologies to manage digital evidence effectively, such as:
- Deploying purpose-built software for collecting and organising digital evidence
- Implementing secure storage solutions
- Adopting standardised protocols for maintaining the authenticity and admissibility of digital evidence
Remember Operation Ironside? It was a major international law enforcement operation that began in June 2021. It involved the collaboration of numerous law enforcement agencies from around the world, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. It was conducted using an encrypted messaging app called AN0M, which was used by criminals around the world to communicate with each other and coordinate their illegal activities. But it produced over 10,000 digital exhibits, meaning that some of the smaller agencies found it difficult to manage the amount of digital evidence obtained, leading to huge pressure on all the systems involved. The operation was a success, but subsequent reviews concluded that the digital evidence could have been managed better.
The crucial need for efficiency in investigation management
Because of the increasing pressure on law enforcement and regulatory bodies to quickly and accurately investigate and prosecute cases, efficiency is critical. With limited time and resources allocated to each case, it’s important to be able to efficiently manage and organise all the relevant information and evidence in a way that is easily accessible and presentable in compliance reports and court hearings.
If you’re still relying on traditional paper-based systems or outdated software tools to manage your cases, you’re wasting time and risking errors. Not only that, but you’re not equipped to capture and manage digital evidence, leading to issues with formatting, upload sizes, and other technical challenges.
That’s why you need to invest in modern digital case management solutions that are specifically designed to capture and manage digital evidence. These solutions should be able to handle a wide variety of file types and sizes, and should include robust security features to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of the evidence.
Look for case management platforms that allow for easy collaboration and sharing of evidence between investigators and other stakeholders, as well as specialised digital evidence management software that can automatically capture and organise digital evidence in a way that is admissible in court.
The importance of security
There can be serious consequences if digital evidence isn’t managed securely. Improperly secured digital evidence can be altered, deleted, or manipulated, which can undermine its credibility and admissibility in court. It can also leave the case open to legal scrutiny, which can lead to dismissals, mistrials, or even civil liability. Not only that, but breaches of digital evidence can damage the reputation of law enforcement and regulatory bodies, eroding public trust in the justice system.
That’s why investing in a purpose-built software solution is critical; it will ensure the security of your digital evidence. It’s how to maintain the credibility and admissibility of digital evidence, while protecting the integrity of your cases and the reputation of the justice system.
Why it’s essential to manage evidence quality
You’ll have seen it before; cases have been struck out of court because the continuity of digital evidence couldn’t be proven, or because an expert could not assure the courts that the evidence had not been tampered with or modified. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that many law enforcement and regulatory agencies struggle to format and present digital evidence and investigative reports in a consolidated and accessible format.
This is where Comtrac comes in. Our investigation management platform is a unique case management solution that brings together entire investigative findings, digital evidence, and mapped elements of offenses into one brief of evidence/findings report for third-party decision makers to view. By leveraging the efficiency of completing the investigation and digital brief as you go, Comtrac is a major time saver and puts people back on the front line of law enforcement.
Comtrac is the only system in the market that offers this level of integration and consolidation, allowing investigators and case managers to easily manage and present digital evidence in a way that is relevant, legitimate, and easily accessible. This not only improves the efficiency and accuracy of case management, but also ensures that the integrity of the evidence is preserved, and the credibility of the case is maintained.
Key Comtrac features that stand out from the crowd
Existing case management systems are often not equipped to create a digital brief of evidence because they lack the necessary integration and consolidation features. Many law enforcement and regulatory agencies use disparate systems to manage different aspects of an investigation, such as case notes, interviews, and digital evidence. These systems are often siloed, making it difficult to bring together all the relevant information and present it in a consolidated format.
Comtrac, on the other hand, is specifically designed to create digital briefs of evidence. It’s the only system in the market that offers this feature, allowing investigators and case managers to easily consolidate all aspects of an investigation into a single, comprehensive report. We’ve achieved this by integrating all aspects of the investigation into a single platform, including case notes, interviews, and digital evidence.
Get out in front of the challenges of managing digital evidence
Digital evidence has become a critical component in many legal investigations and court proceedings, but the sheer volume of data, security risks, and the potential for inefficiencies in the investigation process can create significant challenges when it comes to managing digital evidence effectively. If you’re serious about overcoming these challenges, it’s essential to invest in a modern investigation management platform, one that’s been designed to capture and manage digital evidence securely, with a focus on maintaining the credibility and admissibility of digital evidence while protecting the integrity of cases and the reputation of the justice system.
Would you like to see the Comtrac solution in action? Book a free demo and we’ll show you what it can do.