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Williams explains that there is a forensic backlog because more and more detectives and officers are seizing computers, and wanting to view what's on them in order to obtain evidence and intelligence. “Particularly in child abuse child pornography cases, there is most definitely that need,” she says. “Unfortunately, the capability to do that locally is limited, [which] has created a backlog.”

Williams believes that computer forensic work should remain closely linked to traditional police forensic specialisms. “I'm very clear that digital forensics and traditional forensics are umbilically linked, particularly around accreditation standards with the new surveillance commissioner – it's very much linked into ACPO forensics and the work is complementary.”

But ahead of the forensic triage software roll-out, who is doing the computer forensic work - police officer or forensics officer?

“It depends where you are in the country,” says Williams. “Part of our objective is to be sure what we are creating nationally, is of an accredited standard, and you've got that consistency of approach across the country.”

And does every copper know not to touch a computer if they don't know what they're doing? “I would hope so,” says Williams, laughing. “I would really hope so.”

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Janet Williams works in the Metropolitan Police's Specialist Crime Directorate. She has been Detective Chief Inspector and Senior Investigating Officer in the Metropolitan Police's Anti-Terrorist Branch. Currently she is also dealing with homicide, kidnap, child abuse, covert policing, corporate intelligence, corporate tasking, fraud, drugs, shootings and Operation Trident, the anti-gun crime initiative. ®

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