Digital Footprints in Domestic Violence

Ben Peter recently joined Chorus from Essex Police where he worked as part of the Local Policing Team, predominantly in Tendring and Colchester, dovetailing closely with CID, Domestic, Child & Sexual Abuse Investigation Teams, Community Policing and county wide initiatives such as the County Lines / Op Raptor group. 

We asked him about some of the top issues and topics facing the frontline and how Chorus can assist. Our first post will look at domestic violence and how following a digital footprint can lead to better safeguarding and prosecutions. Following will be discussion with regards to missing person and county line investigations.  

Domestic Violence is an insidious crime and one that Police Forces work hard to tackle; The Crime Survey for England and Wales showed that 1.6 million women and 757,000 men had experienced domestic abuse between March 2019 and March 2020, with a 7% growth in police recorded domestic abuse crimes.  

Following a conference of Chief Constables in March 2021, National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt has warned that female victims of violence were being failed. ‘’Too few victims are seeing their cases go to court. For those that do, the experience is long and difficult”, he said. “This has a serious impact on their confidence in the police and in the criminal justice system’’. 

Harassment and non-physical violence make up a major component of all domestic allegations and as more communication becomes digital there is a risk that this rate may worsen if officers, Investigators and Analysts are not given the correct tools.  

Having worked the front line against domestic violence, I firmly believe that to avoid Investigators becoming swamped they need equipping with the appropriate technology. Being swamped and overworked creates the risk of missing vital evidence and the risk to victims not being averted. 

Being passionate about dealing with offenders is also highlighted in The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 Code of Practice under part 2 which states that: All investigators have a responsibility for carrying out the duties imposed on them under this code, including  recording information and retaining records of information and other material. This summarised in the guidance as: “The successful management of an investigation requires planning, organisation, control and motivation.” 

The tools are available to source, control, link and display vital evidence in easily digested material in a way that, crucially, removes the risk of missing a vital line of data. In a modern policing world, it is unfair to expect an Investigator to process multiple sets of data from disparate cases without equally modern software.  

As the responsibilities of a front-line PC/DC evolve, more data heavy investigations made up of IP address downloads, call data, social media, ANPR, sightings, financial transactions and more find their way to these officers. 

Officers need the tools to work quickly and efficiently through data sets with a robust evidential product; leaving them free to work on other cases or respond to live incidents. A team of detectives should be able to process vast sums of data, capture social media feeds, locate suspects as easily as they use the internet outside of law enforcement.  An analyst department need the ability to process cases swiftly and without error.

And they can.

Chorus Intelligence was created with the goal of providing Investigators and Analysts with the ability to quickly source, cleanse, combine and link data. The digital footprint of domestic violence, in line with most crime, is now a significant part of the evidential chain.  

An abuser may use multiple phone numbers, handsets, physical locations, IP addresses, vehicles, ANPR hits and on-line accounts in the process of stalking or harassing a victim. While an officer can obtain the individual data sets it soon becomes too varied to manually process, present concisely and with links to key events clearly identified and graphically shown.  

Chorus has developed a suite of software modules that act independently or as an integrated platform that can search internal data, external on-line and consented data and combine this with data received from external partners such as call data and financial records. 

As an abuser’s digital presence in a domestic investigation grows it is vital to bring that chain of events to an end quickly and decisively. The ability for an investigator to efficiently produce compelling and comprehensive presentation of events chronologically, with the ‘noise’ stripped out is becoming a vital step to reducing domestic abuse and increasing prosecution rates.  

If you would like to know more about Ben’s experiences and how he thinks Chorus can help with a range of cases you can contact him at [email protected]

Links to Ben’s other posts:

Managing Data and Risk in Missing Persons Investigations
Chorus and County Lines Investigations

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