Police have seized my electronic devices - what happens now?

There are two main ways in which police can seize electronic devices. The first is by securing a warrant from the magistrates’ court and the second is to make an arrest and then conduct a property search.

In cases involving online offending, people often find that once they have been arrested and their electronic devices have been seized, they are then released from arrest and placed under investigation.

In cases where there has been online offending, police may have received intelligence from a number of sources. The most common source, particularly in regard to image offences is the Cybertipline used by the NCMEC in North America. Other sources include UK online intelligence units, undercover police officers and complaints from victims or their families in cases involving grooming or incitement cases.

Once devices have been seized many police forces will hand out a leaflet that contains basic information for those who are under investigation. These usually state that it will take several months for the devices to be forensically examined.

In reality, forensic examination can take more than a year and the waiting can cause intense stress to suspects and their families.

Delay can, in fact, be used as a positive. In cases where a person may be guilty of an offence, this time allows an opportunity to address offending behaviour. Sentencing offenders is not solely about punishment, it is also about reducing the risk of harm. The risk of harm can be reduced by therapy and learning using a variety of sources.

Stone King LLP can provide you with expert guidance on rehabilitation.

The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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