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Mobile phone evidence: Which expert do you need?

July 06 2023

If you’ve been served with evidence from a police intelligence analyst and are looking for an independent review, what information will an expert need to see?

Firstly, it is important to distinguish between what a mobile phone expert can consider and what falls under a cell site analyst's remit.

Instructing a mobile phone expert

The mobile telephone team at Keith Borer Consultants specialises in the extraction and interpretation of data, including calls, texts, messaging apps and hidden, encrypted or deleted data. Richard Wilkinson compiled a useful checklist in our May 2023 newsletter, highlighting several key questions to answer:

  • What is the make/model of phone?
  • Has the relevant information been deleted?
  • Has the phone been examined by the police?
  • Do you know the PIN?
  • What are your specific instructions? What is of interest?

The team also looks at tablet computers and wearable devices, such as smart watches.

If the evidence you have been served with talks about location, “co-location” or journeys where a mobile telephone is predominantly being used, or there has been a comparison of connection records between a number of different mobile phones, it is the cell site analysis team at Keith Borer Consultants who can help.

Mobile phone attribution and connection record charting

Mobile phone attribution reports link a phone to a particular person and are commonly found in large-scale drug and organised crime prosecutions. The attribution can incorporate phone reports, call data records, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) data or images. With connection record charting tools, an accurate picture of timing and quantity of communications between parties can be established and presented to you in an easy to understand format.

Mobile phone attribution can be complex and, in some cases, combines aspects of cell site analysis and mobile phone analysis. At Keith Borer Consultants, this type of work is undertaken by the cell site analysis team but can involve the mobile phone team as needed.

Instructing a cell site analysis expert

Call data records form the basis of cell site analysis and from these it is possible to map out locations of cells, the direction they point and the dates and times they were used. This allows an expert to infer the general location of a phone and, by mapping thousands of records, create a movement map of a phone. Radio Frequency surveys can provide supplementary support to where cells provide coverage in a particular location at a specific time but are not without issue and should be considered as part of a wider cell site analysis review.

If you wish to instruct a member of our cell site analysis team, we’ll ask you to send key information, including:

  • MG5/Summary of evidence
  • Advice of Counsel, if available
  • Any cell site, attribution or survey reports
  • Confirmation as to whether your client accepts attribution
  • Confirmation of the date of the representation order
  • Key witness statements
  • Any trial/court dates or service deadline date

Additionally, let us know of any specific questions you want answered, so we can tailor our estimate accordingly.

The team can be contacted via the Durham office, by calling 0191 332 4999 or emailing kbc@keithborer.co.uk.

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