The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) is trialling a new system designed to modernise the way police forces around the UK process the growing volume of digital evidence.

The organisation has come up with a centralised system based in Nottingham that streamlines how officers in different police forces request electronic forensics from hi-tech crime units (HTCUs), with the aim of cutting examination times.

The main innovation of the system spears to be simply to prioritise requests to have a device examined for evidence which means that the most critical cases get dealt with first. Under the current system, each force makes these requests to its technical staff using separate procedures.

According to the NPIA, the demand for e-forensics across police forces in England and Wales had tripled in the last seven years.

“This good practice model is helping forces examine more electronic devices faster, increasing the chances of evidence being found that could be used in court to convict more criminals,” said NPIA head of police science and forensics, Simon Bramble.

The pilot of the system has involved HTCUs from five forces, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, and will conclude early in 2012. The NPIA hopes to expand the system to other forces after that.

“We are determined to work with the NPIA to make the most of this important investigation technique to protect the communities of the East Midlands,” said detective chief constable for East Midlands, Peter Goodman.