British Army Digital Forensic Specialists Win Two Top International Awards

A British Army Sergeant and digital forensics expert and a forensics team from the British Army’s Royal Military Police (RMP) have proved they are the best in their field, having won two top awards the International Digital Investigation Awards 2020. The IDIA celebrates innovative action by law enforcement agencies from around the world.

The virtual ceremony hosted nominations from world renowned organisations including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Metropolitan Police in categories including digital forensic techniques, collaborative investigation and digital investigator of the year, to name a few.

Use of Advanced Digital Forensic Techniques Award

Sergeant James Stubbs, of the Service Police Cyber Crime Centre (SP3C) scooped the Exceptional Use of Advanced Digital Forensic Techniques Award, beating other highly skilled specialists and team finalists from the Metropolitan Police Service Cybercrime Unit and Leicestershire Police’s Digital Media Intelligence unit.

On receiving the award, Sgt Stubbs said: “I’m delighted to have been nominated and to have won the award for what was a challenging and rewarding investigation. Details of the techniques I used have been requested by INTERPOL Cyber Crime, raising SP3C’s profile internationally.

“I am also proud of SP3C, SPCB, FIIU and FIB for receiving the award for Collaborative Investigation, both awards have provided positive exposure of the Service Police and its efforts to our international counterparts,” he said.

Sgt Stubbs was nominated for his ground-breaking work and carrying out digital forensic investigations to support a US Service Police CID investigation into a sudden death in Iraq in 2019. He was able to retrieve the data from the deceased’s very damaged fitness watch, despite the fact that there was no forensic support for this type of device at the time.

RMP digital forensic investigator at work.

This was of immense importance for the investigation, meaning that time and place of death could be established, enabling the investigators to determine whether any criminal activity had occurred.

More broadly, Sgt Stubbs’s work will also benefit the wider law enforcement community as his work has significantly enhanced understanding of how to forensically analyse such devices, so could be used in future cases to determine time of death and posthumous movements in sudden death or murder cases.

Team Collaborative Award

The RMP Specialist Operations Regiment was recognised in the Team Collaborative Award for their work alongside members of the Royal Navy Police Special Investigation Branch (RNP SIB) for their work in extracting, decoding and interpreting electronic information from a number of devices seized as part of an investigation into alleged possession of indecent images of children.

Corporal Sam Ward, Royal Military Police, and Chief Petty Officer (Master at Arms) Jason Briant, Royal Naval Police, both of Spec Ops Regiment RMP.

Spec Ops Regt continued to support the investigation when jurisdiction was passed to Northumbria Police. As a result, a former serviceman was sentenced to 14 years in jail, made subject to a sexual harm prevention order, a restraining order for life and is on the sexual offender’s register for life.

The team was shortlisted alongside Op BLEAK (a collaboration between North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, the National Cyber Crime Unit and the Australian Federal Police), and National Undercover Online.

‘Best of the best’

Brigadier Viv Buck, Provost Marshal (Army) said: “I am incredibly proud that the RMP has won two awards in the International Digital Investigation Awards 2020, particularly against such high-quality competition from other UK and international law enforcement agencies.

“This is a true reflection of the credibility, competency and excellence of the Service Police team working in digital forensics; they truly are among the best of the best.”

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