UK Prosecutors and Police Still Losing Vital Evidence

UK prosecutors have been slammed by watchdogs for misplacing disks containing vital evidence.

A joint report from HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary Watchdogs highlighted deficiencies with the current push towards a fully digital case preparation and presentation criminal justice system.

It noted:

“It was of concern to learn that a widespread issue existed concerning the misplacing of discs by the CPS. These discs can contain CCTV, 999 recordings, suspect interviews and Achieving Best Evidence (ABE)12 interviews. The inspection noted that police officers received several requests by the CPS to supply further copies of these discs.”

In one particular case, the report claimed the DVD of an interview with a 12-year-old female victim of a sexual offence was lost en route to the CPS.

“As a result of this and other similar cases in that force area, managerial discussions took place between the CPS and police and a new tracking system was introduced which had improved the situation,” it added.

Such issues have not gone unnoticed. Privacy watchdog the ICO fined the CPS £200,000 after laptops containing videos of interviews with 43 victims of violent or sexual crimes were lost.

Michael Hack, senior vice president of EMEA operations at Ipswitch, argued that the coming EU General Data Protection Regulation should impose strict penalties for such transgressions, although it’s still unclear whether public sector bodies will be covered by it.

"Public and private sector organizations can’t take chances when it comes to IT security and must make sure critical information is kept safe. By automating, managing and controlling all file transfers from a central point of control, employees are able to easily send and share files using IT approved methods,” he added.

“The IT department also gains complete control over activity. It’s no longer good enough just to have the right policies in place for secure data transfer, an organization must ensure it has the right file transfer technologies, security systems, processes, and most importantly, staff training."

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