Critically Endangered small

Digital materials assessed by police and other authorities in the course of investigation and retained as evidence of due process such as case files and correspondence, including materials not submitted to court

Group: Digital Legal Records

Trend: New entry

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

Last update: 2019

Previous category: New Entry

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment within 12 months

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

It would require a major effort to prevent losses in this group, such as the development of new preservation tools or techniques.


CCTV; Email; 3d scanning; social media interactions; police records; court records; text messages.

‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Poor chain of custody; fragile or obsolete media; dependence on proprietary formats or products; lack or loss of documentation; inaccessible to web harvesting technologies; lack of version control; lack of integrity checks or integrity records; poor chain of custody.

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Meticulous transfer and disclosure processes

2019 Review

This entry is a subset of an entry made in 2017 for ‘Digital Legal Records and Evidence’ which the Jury has decided to split into four more discrete entries this year.  This category includes evidence prior to court that may form part of an investigation or gathering of evidence but which are not formally submitted as evidence.  It recognizes that police and other investigating authorities are not limited in the types of evidence that they need to administer, but that this creates an almost unbounded limit of preservation requirements to ensure authenticity and admissibility.

Additional Jury Comments

Case files and correspondence are one thing: retention of these should be clear but may differ widely between jurisdictions and/or levels of government. If retention is not long term or permanent, risk of loss may not be so critical. Retention of 'unused' or 'potential' evidence is likely a different matter altogether. is it even a record? certainly it isn't a record of the court. Should it be returned to the suspect or accused? Are their rights being considered here - not just in terms of preservation, but also simply disposition? There may be legal and ethical issues around this which need to be fleshed out in conjunction with assessing its preservation risk.

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