Devices such as phones, laptops and flash drives are becoming increasingly central to police investigations, but the reliability of digital forensics experts’ evidence has been called into question.

A study found that experts tended to find more or less evidence on a suspect’s computer hard drive to implicate or exonerate them depending on the contextual information about the investigation that they were given.

Even those presented with the same information often reached different conclusions about the evidence.

Such biases are known to be a problem in other forensic disciplines including fingerprint analysis, but this is the first time it has been demonstrated in digital forensics.

“I cannot overemphasise the importance of forensic scientists understanding the potential for unintentional bias, and of ensuring they take measures to minimise the risks,” said Dr Gillian Tully, a professor of practice for forensic science policy…

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