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Cause of concern

The force’s ability to examine digital devices is causing severe delays, hampering the quality of investigations and undermining the service provided to victims.


The force should immediately take steps to:
• assess and understand the risk associated with devices currently awaiting examination; • reduce the number of devices awaiting examination, and the time taken to examine each device; and • create an effective and sustainable system to ensure that new devices are prioritised and examined quickly enough that the timeliness and quality of investigations are not compromised

[on]2nd March 2017 [status]awaiting-review[/status][/on][on]11th January 2019 [comment]

This recommendation has been addressed and can now be considered complete.

This area was examined specifically as part if the Effectiveness inspection of 2017. The report, which was published in March 2018, states:-

"In our 2016 effectiveness report, we expressed serious concern about the force’s ability to examine digital devices, such as mobile phones and computers, as part of criminal investigations. Large backlogs were delaying investigations. We found poor management processes in place to determine which devices needed to be seized, and which should be prioritised for examination.

This year, we found that the force has made considerable improvements in the way it manages devices for examination. It has invested in new equipment and training, allowing it to select, prioritise and examine devices more effectively.

The force now has no devices which have been awaiting examination for more than five months. The number of devices awaiting examination is 0.4 per 1,000 residents as at 1 July 2017. The rate for England and Wales is 0.2 per 1,000 residents. Although Northumbria Police’s figures are higher than the England and Wales rate, HMICFRS is satisfied that the force now has good systems in place to prioritise and manage the new and existing devices and that it will be able to continue to reduce the existing backlogs."

This recommendation can therefore be closed as complete.

[/comment][/on][on]22nd January 2019 [status]complete[/status][/on][on]22nd January 2019 [comment]

I am satisfied that the terms of this recommendation have been properly addressed.

John Martin