Criminal Disclosure Exercise
A police force approached CCL for assistance in a cross-border, multi-agency review of digital and hardcopy material, to satisfy their legal obligations under the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act (CPIA) 1996. Due to the potential presence of material subject to Legal Professional Privilege (LPP), it was also requested that CCL facilitate the segregation and independent review of data ensuring the investigation team were not exposed to such files.
Based on our experience in this field, the force requested CCL provide a strategic input as to how the data should be preserved, processed, analysed and searched, and how it should be best reviewed by investigators, independent counsel, and prosecution teams.
Over the period of a year, the customer sent five tranches of data to CCL which required review for disclosure.
CCL facilitated the receipt and verification of digital data collected from mobile devices, personal computers and an array of storage media. We also provided input into how hard copy documents should best be collated and scanned.
All data was processed using powerful eDiscovery software that identifies files and records from a vast range of source data. The software converted the files and records into a human reviewable format and created an index of their text content to ensure they are keyword searchable, including scanned documents. The processing software interprets over 600 file types, including files created using the most commonly used computer applications. Following processing, CCL’s experienced analysts conducted quality assurance checks to identify any issues encountered during processing and to allow remediation. Irrelevant files were excluded to remove any material extraneous to the requirements of the case. This included system files and files responsive to hash lists of known software for computers and mobile devices.
Prior to searching the disclosure keywords, certain sources of data were subject to a Legal Professional Privilege (LPP) keyword search. Results from this search were excluded from further searching to ensure this material did not appear within the disclosure review prior to its assessment by independent legal counsel. The de-duplicated LPP dataset was released to independent counsel on CCL’s remote review platform to assess the keyword responsive documents. Upon completion of the review, material classified as not containing LPP was released to the investigations team.
Searching and review:
Following the stages of processing, resulting files and records in each data set were keyword searched and date range filtered. Email threading was also applied to consolidate the review of email chains.
Following disclosure keyword searching and filtering, the resultant files were split into batches based upon themes and provided to the investigations team for review. The data was made remotely available to five investigators simultaneously via a web browser who reviewed material for disclosure, identifying relevant unused material and applying CPIA compliant descriptions to these items. Further to this, prosecution counsel performed a further review of the items marked as Unused, re-categorising and amending descriptions where necessary.
Once the review was complete, CCL produced lists of unused material onto MC6C (non-sensitive)and MG6D (sensitive) schedules for onward service to the defence.
Following searching using relevant filters and keywords, the investigations teams, independent counsel, and prosecuting counsel – all based in separate locations – were able to remotely access approximately 150,000 items for review. The ease of access allowed the disclosure exercise to continue throughout the Coronavirus pandemic as all parties could access the review platform through a web browser using their usual computers. A combination of CCL’s specialist software, technical expertise, and understanding of the client’s legal requirements gave the Senior Investigating Officer and prosecutors the confidence that a defensible, efficient, and cost-sensitive approach was taken and ensured the authority met their disclosure obligations throughout.