Research Team:  Prof Michele Burman, Dr Oona Brooks-Hay and Dr Ellen Daly (all SCCJR, Glasgow), Dr Yassin Bringer (Queens University Belfast) and Dr Olivia Smith (Loughborough University)

Within the criminal justice system, technological developments have the potential to improve legal processes and access to justice. For example, court files are increasingly digitised and accessed via online systems as part of a drive to modernise and improve efficiency.

There is also increasing demand for digital evidence in the form of communication technologies (for example, social media posts, multi-media messaging, photographs, mobile call logs) and as digitised versions of third-party records (for example, Social Services files, family court proceedings, GP records). Digital evidence is increasingly important in investigation and prosecution processes, but there are significant challenges related to its collection, management, analysis, its relevance and its use. This is particularly so in sexual offence cases.

Digital data is an issue the justice system is grappling with, not least with regard to how large volumes of digital data can be retained securely, used appropriately, and the inordinate length of time that is taken for proper reviews of the material to take place.

Digital evidence is also a key site of contention regarding the rights of the defendant to fair trial and the privacy rights of the complainant. Understanding more fully how these are balanced in determination of the admissibility of digital data, will have strong potential for safeguarding the rights of both defendants and complainants and ensuring the delivery of justice.

This project, funded by the University of Glasgow Reinvigorating Research fund, is analysing data from the Criminal Cases Review Commission of England and Wales and will start to build an evidence base on the use of digital evidence in rape cases, and will allow us to understand how digital evidence is framed in terms of its relevance, admissibility, and probative value.

New Media, Surveillance and Technology

Gender, Crime and Criminal Justice

Associated People

Prof Michele Burman

University of Glasgow

Dr Oona Brooks-Hay

University of Glasgow