I wrote recently about the use by the British Army’s Royal Military Police of AccessData’s investigative tools, which allow data of all kinds to be captured, processed, analysed and reviewed very much faster than hitherto.
The Guardian has an interesting article on this headed Big Data: Police given access to British army’s crime-fighting software. Ignore the journalistic idea that “Big Data” and “lots and lots of data” are synonymous terms, and focus on the volumes: a wide range of crimes is covered, from child abuse, hate crimes and computer hacking through to the work of the specialist military people who comprise IHAT, the Iraq Historic Allegations Team; the latter alone collected 75 TB of data on alleged abuse by British soldiers between 2003 and 2008.
The same AccessData technology has been used by the Metropolitan Police in big investigations such as Operation Elveden, the investigation into alleged payments by journalists to public officials, as well as child pornography and abuse cases.
A point is made at the end of the article which I have come across recently in a different context. Major Keith Miller, commander of the RMP’s Service Police Crime Bureau finds that defence lawyers remain firmly wedded to physical paper despite the expense of printing and the yet more significant expense of reviewing electronic data without the
search and retrieval facilities which modern technology offers. Major Miller says “We come up against some people who insist on taking paper evidence. I dump it all on them but the data sets now are so large they rarely ask for it in that format again.”
Those of us whose primary focus is on civil eDiscovery are familiar with this reaction, coming not only from lawyers but from judges. Major Miller’s education programme may be brutal, but the defence lawyers asked for it, in a very literal way. The focus on proportionality and costs control in civil proceedings mean, effectively, that lawyers no
longer have the luxury of demanding the most expensive form of production. We need to speed up the process of education of both lawyers and judges to help them realise how much easier and more efficient it is to use technology like AccessData’s software to review material in civil as well as in criminal cases.