The West Midlands Police department of Birmingham England has been receiving quite a bit of attention, and a significant amount of criticism, since posting a job opening in their Digital Forensics Team.
The posting, found here, describes an unpaid volunteer position in which the applicant would be expected to “provide specialist technical support enabling the recovery, processing and viewing of data from various sources”. Provided the volunteers receive the necessary training to assist in these types of matters, many have still raised concerns with the possible issues that could arise from having unpaid interns handling the intake, storage and review of evidence. What has proved to be especially concerning to many is that the posting states “Applicants must be aware they will routinely come across distressing imagery including indecent images, fatal road traffic accidents, live CCTV footage recovery of incidents.” Indecent images has been perceived by many to indicate images involving child abuse and pornography.
A former West Midlands Police forensic officer’s story of her experience working in the unit was published by the BBC and can be found here. The former officer eventually chose to quit the position after being diagnosed with PTSD from her role collecting evidence. Her story serves as a cautionary tale for prospective volunteers. For their part the West Midlands Police say that all of their staff and volunteers have access to counsellors 24 hours a day and that enhanced checks are carried out on individuals who perform review of potentially disturbing images.
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Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology