Vehicle System Forensics – Strategies


How many Serious Crime SIO’s, Crime Scene Forensic Managers or Roads Policing Lead Investigators are incorporating the digital opportunities from a modern vehicle into their forensic vehicle examination strategies?

We often see a vehicle recovered in a major investigation and it is subject to some traditional forensics of fingerprint examination, DNA, tapings etc. Over the last couple of years we have seen the advancements in what the vehicle has to offer up digitally and the preservation of this evidence is paramount. If it is not considered as part of the forensic strategy then it can be lost.

All too often in the time we have been examining vehicles we are the last people to examine the vehicle and we have found numerous examples of where important data has been lost that could have been preserved. It could also be the case that the previous examiners may have fallen foul of best practice in digital evidence, such as ACPO and SWDGE in respect of how to handle this type of evidence. This is by no means a criticism of those investigators, it is just that they have been unaware of the implications and that is where a specialist can be of assistance.

We are pleased to share that this week following some training we did with a number of UK police forces, we were contacted by some officers that had been on our training in respect of a vehicle used in a murder investigation. This early contact and engagement with the crime scene manager responsible for the forensic vehicle examination meant that we were able to formulate a strategy that met the needs of all the forensic opportunities for the vehicle with minimising the risk of loss of all the evidence by identifying the options and putting them into an order of importance so that one did not impact on the other.

By integrating the various elements of the strategy jointly with the force’s scenes of crime examiners we were able to attend and do our part at the correct stage of the process. In addition to this we are able to integrate to the overall digital strategy of the investigation and provide information on the digital opportunities from the vehicle that could be overlooked in other parts of the digital aspect of the investigation.

During this examination we were able to recover crash data that was not apparent and would perhaps not be even considered in an undamaged vehicle, diagnostic tools were used to extract communications data and a non Berla supported infotainment module was recovered for a bench examination involving a chip off process. By pulling these in-house skills and birds eye approach to all vehicle data we have secured that data from the vehicle and it is now left for the next stage in the forensic strategy.

For further information on how vehicle data could assist in your investigation and incorporating a vehicle system forensic strategies into an overall strategy then please contact us on 01924 208060 to find out what you may inadvertently be missing.