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Homepage / Why do we need Digital Forensic Science?

Why do we need Digital Forensic Science?


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Important to our Justice System?

In many criminal inquiries, digital forensic science experts are deployed as part of the investigation process. Whilst this might seem like a bold statement, comments made recently by some leading law enforcement bodies provide an insight into the importance of this discipline:


Interpol1:- ‘Electronic evidence is a component of almost all criminal activities and digital forensics support is crucial for law enforcement investigations.


Muir & Walcott via The Police Foundation2:- ‘The importance of digital forensics as a core capability within policing and criminal justice cannot be overstated…as digital evidence has become a core part of almost any criminal case, the use of digital forensics has now become a core criminal justice function.’


 The National Police Chiefs’ Council3:- ‘Over 90% of all crime is recognised as having a digital element, and society’s accelerating use of technology means the critical role digital forensic science plays will only grow.’


A Tech Driven Society

Technology is now utilised in almost all aspects of our lives, from communication and social media, to banking and online shopping. In turn, device ownership has grown dramatically – almost all of us now have a mobile phone as well as having access to the Internet almost on demand. We are truly a technology driven connected society, and given this fact it should be no surprise that the same technology that we use for legitimate purposes is also deployed maliciously by criminals. The vast number of ways in which digital technologies can be abused is subject only to the inventiveness of the criminal mind. We now see devices used to commit acts such as the sending of malicious communications and to conduct fraudulent behaviours.

In addition, some devices contain information that may help investigators to  understand criminal events when no human witnesses may be present, for example, CCTV which has documented an assault. The fact that technology is now intertwined with all aspects of society has now led to a large number of devices being seized in order for a digital forensic examination to be conducted. This in turn has created a number of backlogs, delaying the  criminal justice process.


‘A Freedom of Information request submitted to the 45 police forces across the UK found that a total of 21,022 devices, which includes mobile phones, tablets and computers, were waiting for examination4’.


The Next Generation

Digital forensic science is both in high demand and one of the most utilised of all of the sub-sections of forensic science. To cope with this need, this field requires trained individuals with the knowledge, skills and techniques to effectively and reliably conduct digital forensic work to support criminal justice systems.



  1. Interpol (n.d.) ‘Digital forensics’ Available at: (Accessed: 27 April 2023)
  2. Muir, R & Walcott, S., (2021) ‘Unleashing the value of digital forensics.’ Available at: (Accessed: 27 April 2023)
  3. The National Police Chiefs’ Council (2020) ‘Digital Forensic Science Strategy’ Available at: (Accessed: 27 April 2023)
  4. Long, J., (2022) ‘Police backlog of over 20,000 digital devices awaiting examination’ Available at: (Accessed: 27 April 2023)


Dr Graeme Horsman

Written By: Cormac Mcmanus

Dr Graeme Horsman is a Digital Forensic expert and practitioner as well as course director of Digital Forensics at Cranfield University.

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