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Investigating the uses of mobile phone evidence in China criminal proceedings

Zhang, Aolan; Bradford, Ben; Morgan, Ruth M; Nakhaeizadeh, Sherry; (2022) Investigating the uses of mobile phone evidence in China criminal proceedings. Science & Justice , 62 (3) pp. 385-398. 10.1016/j.scijus.2022.03.011. Green open access

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Abstract

Data from mobile phones are regularly used in the investigation of crime and court proceedings. Previously published research has primarily addressed technical issues or provided operational manuals for using forensic science evidence, rather than analysing human factors and the implementation of forensic tools in investigation settings. Moreover, previous research has focused almost entirely on western countries, and there is a dearth of research into the uses of forensic evidence in China. In this study, a review was carried out of court sentencing documents referring to mobile phone evidence in China over the period 2013-2018. Automated content analysis was used to identify the specific evidence types utilised and the sentencing outcome for each case. Results show that mobile phone evidence was used in 3.3% of criminal proceedings. Among various data types mentioned in criminal proceedings, call records sustained as the most frequently used type of data. After which, instant messaging tools (e.g. WeChat) are an increasing proportion of all mobile phone evidence, from 1% in 2015 to 25% in 2018. For cases that utilised mobile phone data, the analysis of instant messaging and online transaction tools is routine, with little variation in the use of each application (WeChat, Alipay, QQ) for investigations of different types of crime. However, in the majority of criminal cases, mobile phone data function as subsidiary evidence and posed limited impacts on verdict reached. The current findings indicate that a large amount of mobile phone evidence is transformed into other evidence formats or filtered out directly before court proceedings.

Type: Article
Title: Investigating the uses of mobile phone evidence in China criminal proceedings
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2022.03.011
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scijus.2022.03.011
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: Mobile phone evidence; Digital forensics; Criminal proceedings; Automatic content analysis
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10146531
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