Panel Session: Accreditation Pathways

Panel Participants:
Gillian Tully (Forensic Science Regulator)
Neil Cohen (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory)
Brian Collins (Digital Coordination Supervisor, Derbyshire Constabulary)

Investigators are encountering digital devices in almost every crime, and they need to determine quickly whether these devices, and the networks they connect with, contain relevant information. As a result, the demand for digital forensic services is growing steadily, pressuring laboratories to work on more cases with their existing resources, and causing many laboratories to have substantial backlogs that delay delivery of services. To obtain more timely information, investigators are using commercial products to perform more forensic operations themselves in the field without the necessary levels of quality assurance. When treated properly, digital evidence has high probative value and scientific validity. Conversely, when digital evidence is not treated properly, there is an increased risk of missed or misinterpreted evidence with consequences such as failing to disclose potentially exculpatory information or leaving dangerous criminals free to commit additional offenses. This panel examines the need and pathways for laboratories to manage quality throughout the digital forensic process and to guarantee reliable results in a timely manner.