3 Investigations Best Practices to Increase Efficiency
I previously wrote about the importance of placing case agents at the forefront of criminal investigations. Part of the reason this is important is to create the most efficient workflow possible to speed up individual investigations. Time is quite literally of the essence during investigations. Building on that previous article, I’ve compiled the following best practices to help you avoid duplication and wasted effort.
Get the Case Agent and Analyst Together Right Away
The case agent is in a unique position to give your investigators the proper context about the case and evidence, but they often have to go over things multiple times in order to get analysts up to speed for the purpose of finding supporting evidence. In some cases they aren’t able to go over the context of the case with the analyst at all, slowing down the analyst’s ability to find evidence and ultimately introducing the risk of important things getting missed.
If the analyst doesn’t understand the evidence he or she is looking at (or even recognize that it’s an important piece of evidence at all), they will often spend too much time reviewing irrelevant or unresponsive facts, or miss important pieces of evidence altogether.
Consider this scenario: An analyst recovers a picture of two men talking together from a suspect’s computer. If the analyst doesn’t know who the two men are, he might bypass it as inconsequential. When the case agent sees the picture, however, she immediately identifies one of the men as a suspect in the case, and the other as a person of interest whom the suspect claimed he didn’t even know. The picture becomes a key piece of evidence in the case, completely invalidating the suspect’s story.
Take Advantage of Intelligence Resources
It’s tempting to view each case or investigation in a vacuum, as a distinct and independent occurrence. As we all know, real life doesn’t work that way. Criminals will use the same phone, email address, or other resources in conjunction with multiple crimes, leaving a trail to follow that sometimes can span months or even years.
It’s all too much for a human to remember. What are the chances that you’ll remember a phone number that appeared in a case two years prior? Would it help if you could quickly discern that a suspect in your current investigation emailed another party connected with the investigation, and that conversation was captured and reviewed in conjunction with that prior case?
Third party intelligence repositories and past cases are excellent resources, but only if you can access them programmatically. Review your workflow and the capabilities of your investigations software, and take advantage of every opportunity you have to bring intelligence in from sources outside of the current case. You’ll find that those connections and relationships can cut hours of needless searching and “reinventing the wheel.”
Employ Tools That Support Collaboration
Ideally, case agents should have the ability to view and search the evidence simply themselves, and for both analysts and agents to have the ability to go back to the evidence and progress new avenues of search as the case develops.
Traditional forensic investigation software wasn’t built with collaboration in mind. It is often built on the model of viewing evidence on a local, powerful device capable of churning through masses of evidence, but not connected to other workstations in any meaningful way.
You can deploy software like Nuix Web Review & Analytics, Nuix Insight Analytics & Intelligence, and Nuix Investigator Lab to give analysts and case agents access to the evidence they need, wherever they are located, quickly and securely. Collaboration shouldn’t be stunted due to restrictions or shortcomings in the software you use to do your job.