GWENT Police has a backlog of more than 200 seized computers, tablets, phones and other digital devices waiting to be examined by investigators, new figures reveal.

The service had a total of 261 devices awaiting examination by investigators as of February, according to data from a Press Association Freedom of Information Act request.

Although there is no breakdown of what devices are being held, the most common items include computers, tablets and phones.


These can be used to check messages, photographs, emails or social media accounts as part of an investigation.

In Wales, Dyfed-Powys police force had the lowest number of devices awaiting forensic investigation - 197 - while both North and South Wales police forces had a larger backlog than in Gwent - with 386 and 396 devices yet to be analysed respectively.

The Police Federation of England and Wales said officers are "overwhelmed" by the amount of digital evidence they are faced with, warning that mounting workloads are a result of forces struggling to attract new detectives.

Simon Kempton, technology lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "Investigators are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of digital evidence.

"Forces are struggling to attract new detectives which is resulting in mounting workloads.

"There is also a need for forces to invest in technology which can help speed up this process by extracting and sorting this data automatically."

Across England and Wales, a total of 12,122 devices were awaiting examination by the 32 police forces which responded.

Mr Kempton said the 43 forces in England and Wales have different approaches, with some using the latest technology to download and analyse data and others not.

A new Forensic Capability Network (FCN) was launched on April 1 to create a more unified approach between police forces, which National Police Chiefs' Council lead for digital forensics, Deputy Chief Constable Nick Baker, said would help reduce the size of the backlog.

"The process of identifying reasonable lines of inquiry, extracting relevant material from devices and reviewing it is time-consuming,” he said.

"With the launch of the FCN and ongoing efforts to identify smarter working practices, we aim to see a reduction in the number of devices to be investigated at any one time."

Gwent Police have been contacted for comment.