forensics - cheshire police digivan technology to tackle sex crimes

New “digivan” technology is to be used in towns across Cheshire to help police tackle rape and serious sexual offences.

The force has funded the unmarked unit from the Government’s Transforming Forensics (TF) programme which comes after findings of the in-depth Rape Response Review.

A total of £5 million was put forward to help police forces improve how they respond to rape or serious sexual offences (RASSO) and other serious crimes.

And Cheshire Police invested in an unmarked van that acts as a mobile digital forensic unit and install kiosks with digital forensic kiosk technology.

The outside of the “digivan” is plain but inside it is a mobile office containing equipment and software that an investigating team needs to perform phone extractions and conduct digital examinations at the scene of alleged sexual crimes.

New digital services and portable tools enable police forces to take technology to victims.

They can examine mobile phones and other digital devices at crime scenes, and give investigators faster access to the right digital evidence.

They allow trained officers to securely extract data from a wide range of devices, SIM cards or USBs.

Officers can perform selective or full physical data extraction as it allows victims and witnesses to share only the data that’s relevant to the case, while leaving all other information private.

It is designed to build trust in the community, encourage collaboration and save time.

One key aim is victims are not left without a phone for more than 24 hours.

Replacement phones will also be provided in a minority of cases.

Detective Chief Inspector Gavin Day, of the Digital Media Investigation Unit, said: “We have worked hard to ensure that Cheshire received the maximum benefit from this government funding and the new equipment will enable us, as a force, to vastly enhance our digital capability to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

“Whenever an officer is asked to investigate a RASSO incident one of their first considerations should be contacting the digital forensics unit.

“This ensures that a Digital Media Investigator, or an officer from within the digital forensics unit, attends the address of the victim, or an agreed location, so that any evidence held on the victim’s personal devices is captured with minimal impact to the victim.

“This enhances our service level, strengthens our opportunity to gather valuable evidence and, most importantly, increases the victim’s confidence in us.”

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