Digital Forensics and Social Media Evidence


Almost any crime that is committed today gives rise to evidence in digital forms. Such evidence frequently includes communications – via a wide array of social media platforms and messaging applications – between or among suspects, witnesses and victims. The nature, volume and complexity of ‘social media evidence’ pose multiple challenges but also new opportunities for the investigative and prosecution process.

These challenges and opportunities will be explored through a research project which will combine a review of policy and procedure with close examination of how, in practice, social media evidence has been utilized in the investigation and prosecution of serious sexual and violent offences. Some of the questions to be addressed by the study include:

  • What are the technical processes by which social media and messaging content are obtained and preserved for criminal investigations?
  • How adequate is the existing legal, procedural and regulatory framework governing access, seizure, admissibility and presentation of social media evidence?
  • What are the key challenges associated with review, analysis and disclosure of digital communications – including determination of ‘all reasonable lines of inquiry’ where there is a vast quantity of material?
  • What are the implications of the use of social media evidence for the privacy of suspects, victims and witnesses?
  • How can social media evidence best be presented in court?

The project is being undertaken in collaboration with:

Dawes Trust

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