The reporting of forensically obtained data, from whichever discipline, has always been a challenge for criminal justice systems, and that is especially true for digital evidence reports.
The United Kingdom’s criminal Justice system has tried to streamline the reporting of all such data by producing a standard Streamlined Forensic Report (SFR) document.
The SFR was introduced into forensic science reporting long before digital forensics was a thing and in essence it was designed for forensic scientists to report their findings to the court. The SFR would be disclosed to the defence team, who could then either accept it as is, or challenge the findings.
If the defence accepted the SFR then the evidence obtained could be presented and used in any proceedings without the need for the forensic scientist to prepare a statement and attend in person. Of course, if the SFR was challenged, then the scientist would need to prepare a statement and attend court so any evidence could be tested.
The SFR has now been adopted into digital evidence gathering, and this led to a request from MSAB UK customers who were using MSAB Kiosks and Tablets.
Could the SFR Template be introduced into the workflow, such that the data that is always needed, such as officer’s name, number, rank, force, the date of the offence, the date of the report, the crime number, etc., is entered during the workflow and inserted into the Microsoft Word template?
The idea is that, since the officer is at a computer, and is already entering data regarding the extraction, why not enter all the standard information at the same time and save time and errors?
MSAB thought that this was a good idea, and with the support of the UK customers, we created the ability to do just that.
The SFR Template is stored at a location where the Kiosk/Tablet can see it – whether on the XEC server or the Kiosk itself, and when a user logs onto a Kiosk or Tablet, they follow their workflow – at the point of the case data entry, the user also completes all the other information that is required. The real beauty of using the XEC services is that you only need one copy of the template, all Kiosks can see it, and so complete the document.
The Kiosk then creates the completed SFR document and stores it with the XRY file. Once the user has completed the extraction, and any review of the data, they can then open the SFR document, with all the headings already populated, thus saving the officer time since they don’t have to re- key this data, and reducing the possibility of errors, as the data is only keyed in once.
This is a great example of MSAB working in partnership with our customers to save them time – as time is a commodity of which there is never enough.
But this ability to auto-populate templates can be extended beyond the UK’s need for an SFR – if your agency has a Word Doc that must always be filled in by officers extracting data then MSAB’s Ecosystem can autocomplete fields such as officer’s name, rank, force, crime number, date of extraction, etc. .
If you are an MSAB customer, reach out to your sales manager to discuss with them and the MSAB Professional Services team how we can save you time by building this ability into your workflow.
Simon Crawley is a former Police Sergeant in the Metropolitan Police Service, with 10 years experience in Counter Terrorism intelligence gathering using digital forensic tools. Simon designed, built and managed an effective and efficient MSAB Ecosystem in order to improve data collection, and he is now a senior consultant for MSAB.