Challenging cell site analysis evidence

If you instruct a cell site expert, either to review the Crown work, or so that you can independently introduce it to your case in order to corroborate an alibi, then your expert needs to be “fit for purpose”.
There are in the region of 30 companies in the UK who offer cell site analysis, so you would think you would have a wide choice of reputable experts to choose from when needing to instruct. In our opinion, this unfortunately is not the case. We expect that you also will be concerned when you realise the implications.
Although all of these companies offer cell site analysis as a service there are in fact ‘Virtual Providers’, the majority of which are unable to provide an in-house cell site analysis expert service. Subcontracted work to one of the few cell site analysis expert companies adds to the cost. More critically the work may be undertaken by a member of their staff who is an experienced in their own field, usually computer or mobile phone examinations but is not an expert in cell site analysis. There are probably less than 5 of those companies who have an in-house cell site expert, who conduct their own network surveys, write their own report and then deliver their cell site analysis evidence in court. It is difficult to understand why this is not the standard of all experts in this discipline, but probably not a great surprise to many of you.

After a couple of recent cases where we conducted the Prosecution cell site analysis one of our experts came up against a defence cell site “expert“ with worryingly little knowledge of the workings of cell site analysis. This expert unfortunately put defence Counsel in an embarrassing and unfortunate situation by giving him wholly incorrect advice on which he acted.A great deal of time, effort and expense was subsequently wasted. It should be understood that presently cell site analysis is not subject to any regulatory body and is only subject to self-certification. It may be worth considering the credibility of ‘experts’ that do not, on occasions, provide Crown evidence.
We have been approached by a number of these companies asking whether we would conduct their cell site analysis work, but under the name of that particular company. We have always declined this as it is more costly to the customer, misleading, and unnecessary.
It is becoming more and more common with cuts to funding, and our cell site experts are becoming increasingly concerned that use of such unqualified experts could lead to a miscarriage of justice in the future.

When instructing a cell site analysis expert, ask if they have an expert in house or whether they outsource the work, also obtain a copy of their CV, and this will tell you immediately if they are a computer or handset analyst, or whether they have a background with a network provider in planning and optimisation or some other relevant background or experience.
Find out how many cell site analysis reports the expert has written, and also how many times they have given evidence at court, specifically in relation to cell site analysis. A good expert will be happy to hand over this information along with a history of court cases on which they have worked.
Due to recent changes in the delivery of Crown cell site evidence, it is important now, more than ever to make sure you have an expert who fully understands all areas of cell site analysis, and exactly what can be challenged as this could be crucial to your client.

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