Police Scotland has confirmed that the phased roll out of cyber kiosk technology will begin on 20 January.
It follows a delay going back to early last year caused by concerns over the relevant legal framework.
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and independent senior counsel have now affirmed the existence of a legal basis for the use of cyber kiosks, and Police Scotland is to develop a Data Ethics Governance Framework for their usage.
They will only examine a digital device where there is a legal basis and where it is necessary, justified and proportionate to the incident or crime under investigation. In addition, will not be enabled to store data from digital devices – it will all be securely deleted once an examination is complete.
Police Scotland have procured 41 of the cyber kiosks – specialised desktop computers that enable specially trained officers to triage mobile devices to determine if they contain information which may be of value to a police investigation or incident. This will allow lines of enquiry to be progressed at a much earlier stage and devices that are not relevant to an investigation to be returned quicker.
The kiosks will be located in police stations across the country’s local policing divisions and are scheduled to be operational by the end of May.
Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said: “People of all ages now lead a significant part of their lives online and this is reflected in how we investigate crime and the evidence we present to courts. Many online offences disproportionately affect the most vulnerable people in our society, such as children at risk of sexual abuse, and our priority is to protect those people.
“Increases in the involvement of digital devices in investigations and the ever-expanding capabilities of these devices mean that demand on digital forensic examinations is higher than ever. Current limitations however, mean the devices of victims, witnesses and suspects can be taken for months at a time, even if it later transpires that there is no worthwhile evidence on them.
“By quickly identifying devices which do and do not contain evidence, we can minimise the intrusion on people’s lives and provide a better service to the public”.
An update report on the roll out of kiosks is being presented to the Scottish Police Authority for discussion, and the service has written to stakeholders, including the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, to keep them informed.
Image from Police Scotland