Bedfordshire Police DMI team

Purpose built triage van takes to the road for the first time in Bedfordshire


Bedfordshire Police has become one of the first forces in the UK to introduce a triage van to carry out on-scene examination of digital devices in indecent image warrants.

The purpose built Peugeot has been hailed by the force as a valuable first step to tackling its year-long backlog of seized mobile devices and computers.

Launched this week, the van will be staffed by four DMIs from the force cyber team. Danny Howett, Steve Gorman, Ian Kerley and Adam Horsman will provide on-going support to the force Internet Child Abuse Team (ICAT).

They will attend the addresses of those suspected of possessing indecent images and analyse digital devices in the van outside the address. This means that the devices will only be seized and taken back to the digital forensics unit if indecent images are found, thus saving valuable time and resources.

DMI Steve Gorman explained the van had already been put to good use that day as a result of a warrant by the ICAT team. In just a few hours, the team helped officers examine six out of 12 digital devices retrieved from a residential address in the county. As a result, the owner of the devices is now in police custody.

DMI Danny Howett said that already in its first morning, the van had enabled officers to examine double the amount of digital devices.

The Police and Crime Commissioner’s Innovation Fund picked up the £42,000 bill for the van.

DS Pete Ward, the force Digital Media Co-ordinator said he hoped that if the project proved a success then the force could introduce a further van in six months time.

He pitched the idea to Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway who gave it her full support.

Attending the launch at Bedfordshire Police HQ this week, Mrs Holloway described the idea as a ‘no brainer’ and that she was delighted to have been able to finance the project.  

Also attending the launch, Chief Constable Jon Boucher admitted that his force was struggling to cope with the deluge of digital devices that are now a routine part of major crime cases. He said that as a result of technological advances that policing had ‘changed more in the past five years that it had in the past eighty years’.

He hailed the van as a positive first step in trying to tackle the backlogs and praised the dedication of his staff in making the project happen.

Much work has been put into ensuring the van is comfortable for two officers to work in for long periods of time and it includes air conditioning, a touch screen TV and a coffee machine. The team admitted that the only downside is that it doesn’t include a toilet!

The Investigator understands that triage vans are already in operation in Norfolk, Cleveland and PSNI but not on the scale of the Bedfordshire van which will be operational on a full-time basis.

Beds PCC Kathryn Holloway and Chief Constable Jon Boucher

Beds PCC Kathryn Holloway and Chief Constable Jon Boucher

DMI Steve Gorman at work in the triage van

DMI Danny Howett reviewing digital evidence in the triage van

Beds PCC Kathryn Holloway and Chief Constable Jon Boucher

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