Cohort company MASS has finalised and signed a seven year contract to provide an innovative digital forensics (DF) managed service to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).
The initial contract value is around £8 million with the option for a three year extension. The contract also allows for other forces and agencies to join the partnership, which could extend the value considerably.
The DF managed service will work in partnership with the MPS to deliver technology, research and development, ensuring the MPS can acquire and interpret a wide range of electronic data related to criminal investigations. The service has been designed and contracted so that it can be adopted by other police forces and law enforcement agencies throughout the UK, reducing the overall cost of the service.
This contract is a strategic partnership based on the model developed over the past three years by the MPS’ Digital, Cyber and Communications Forensic Unit. Historically, digital forensics at the MPS was carried out in-house, but constrained by a centralised operating model where devices were sent to a central DF laboratory.
This new innovative service builds on the existing model, by delivering managed DF kiosks in locations across the metropolitan area, where trained officers will carry out selective examinations of seized devices. This first level of the MASS managed service will give officers rapid access to device content, enabling them to respond quickly at the frontline.
The second level uses DF teams at strategic locations to provide the full range of DF activities, processing more complex exhibits, delivering tactical advice and upskilling police staff.
The third level provides streamlined access to cutting edge forensic capabilities. It will oversee forensic submissions to external service providers such as DF specialists, vendors and academia; manage access to national databases; develop advanced DF techniques that cannot be outsourced and provide links to other national Digital Investigation and Intelligence (DII) strands. A key part of the contract is the partnership in research and development that can deliver new capability into all three levels of the managed service.
To deliver the service, MASS will utilise and retain, at the core of the new service, the knowledge held within police Hi-Tec Crime Units (HTCU). Through MASS, trusted suppliers will be selected to deliver DF service outputs based on their expertise, capability and value for money. This technique encourages healthy competition and enables successful suppliers to contribute towards developing the service, increasing their accessible market to include other police forces and agencies.
MASS Managing Director Chris Stanley explained: “The DF environment is changing rapidly. The emphasis is no longer only on device forensics but must also consider networked and cloud environments. This places additional pressure on the need for real-time DF at the operational front-line of policing.”
“The new managed service will be a key enabler for the Metropolitan Police in its drive to transform the way it delivers policing.”
“We also recognise that the evidentiary nature of DF requires rigorous standards to stand up to cross examination in court. We will therefore exploit the technical discipline that we have established in the defence and security markets to deliver the service and introduce future technological innovation.”
“We believe that this exciting development with the MPS will provide a model for the way police forces throughout the UK satisfy their future DF requirements.”
The Head of Digital Forensics in the MPS, Mark Stokes, said: “This is a ground breaking contract for the MPS which will ensure the MPS maintains a dynamic and operationally effective service over the next seven years in a rapidly changing and developing area of forensic science.”
“The partnership is also key in delivering the complex Research and Developments requirements in this challenging and fast moving area of digital forensics. It is only with a partnership such as this that has the reach into the wide and varied capabilities of the private sector can we maintain the required level of technical innovation.”
He added: This is a very exciting time for digital forensics and the MPS is looking forward to the partnership delivering real transformation in the delivery of digital forensics within the MPS and across policing.”