Going mobile with data analysis

Mobile phone analysis has become an essential tool to help police link criminal gang activity with criminals now increasingly relying on mobile devices to carry out their illegal activity.

Aug 9, 2012
By Paul Jacques
PCC Donna Jones

Mobile phone analysis has become an essential tool to help police link criminal gang activity with criminals now increasingly relying on mobile devices to carry out their illegal activity.

Last year there were 98 million mobiles in use in the UK according to the International Telecommunications Union.

A test carried out by Midlands-based company Forensic Pathways on 1,000 mobile phones discovered 87,637 phone numbers, 87,059 digit entries and 1,726 case relationships (new links between crime cases).

This means police are now being bombarded with data from mobile phones and networks that could provide valuable intelligence in an investigation. However, the sheer volume of data and the fact that current analysis methods are limited and time consuming (many hours are spent manually data cleansing) means they are not making the best use out of the available evidence.

Forensic Pathways has developed Forensic Phone Analyser (FPA) to improve workflow for forensic analysts and to aid mobile phone forensics, allowing analysts more time to focus on discovering linked exhibits that detail criminal connections.

The software can analyse all mobile phones and provide valuable intelligence to link social and criminal networks – helping police and security agencies trace and link terrorist activity and organised crime.

It can trace and link people, identify social and criminal networks, pinpoint fraudulent identities and attribute phone numbers and text messages to people.

FPA allows police to cleanse all extracted data, search and analyse and then compile the information in a report. The system can handle data extracted from one mobile phone or thousands of phones.

“Crimes such as terrorism are becoming increasingly complex and often have an international element to them,” explained Dr Richard Leary at Forensic Pathways.

“By using FPA, police can help build up an accurate picture of an individual’s involvement in a gang or particular crime and use it as valuable evidence to secure a conviction. It can also help establish whether individual crimes are linked and are part of wider organised activity.”

Dr Leary – a former West Midlands Police officer and a founder of the Jill Dando Institute – added that today’s criminal investigations were becoming increasingly complex due to the vast amount of data being generated and available to police.

“The growth of the internet and telecoms technologies has led to criminals operating across borders and even internationally, which provides challenges for police and law enforcers to link their activity,” said Dr Leary. “The FPA is a valuable piece of technology that can help investigators unravel often complex associations and the involvement of numerous criminals operating across continents.”

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