Meet The Team: Simon Young
Forming part of the Digital Investigation Unit (DIU) at IntaForensics, Simon Young has over four decades’ worth of experience in law enforcement, and we had the pleasure of sitting down with him to discuss his career and how he sees the future of Digital Investigations.
What was it about IntaForensics that made you want to join the company?
“I have been aware of IntaForensics for several years, having met some of the team at conferences where they delivered presentations about the products and services. Steph Curwen and I worked closely together for a number of years prior to her joining the company and when I became aware that the DIU had started its journey, I jumped at the chance to help build it. The job profile fitted everything I was already doing and I felt certain I could add value to the unit.”
What experience do you have in law enforcement and the criminal justice system?
“My career in law enforcement stretches back over 44 years with West Mercia Police. During the majority of my service in the force, I was a detective investigating serious, serial and cross-border crime in a number of specialist units.
“I was fortunate enough to spend several years as a surveillance operative, and during my time as a detective I travelled the world in pursuit of evidence, including Japan, Russia and lots of European countries, something which I thoroughly enjoyed.
“I have worked on many murder investigations, some of which were high profile. I received training as a disclosure officer and have extensive experience in preparation of files to committal standard.
“Following my retirement as a serving officer in 2008, I took on a Police Staff role in covert policing where I qualified as a Communications Data Investigator and Digital Media Investigator and then continuing within the realms of covert policing, I moved to the Covert Authorities Bureau in 2016.
“In 2018, I joined the Digital Intelligence and Investigation Unit as a Digital Media Investigator which put me back into the evidential arena. As a result, I attended many training courses to learn all things digital and about devices, which has provided me with valuable qualifications whilst still being hands on with investigations. In the past two years I have delivered training to officers and staff in Wi-Fi routers and telematics.”
What would you say is the most interesting and rewarding aspect of your job?
“I find the pursuit of identifying a person, an account or acquiring evidence which may have been inaccessible through conventional means really satisfying. I get enjoyment in the role from the challenges faced in cases and trying out new tactics to acquire information, particularly when they lead to acquiring crucial evidence.”
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
“It’s always challenging working to time constraints and also when the goal posts are moved part way through an investigation.
“Working with communications data can be challenging as the Telecoms Operators are creating and changing new and existing products and services and as a result, we have to develop an understanding of new data.
“Trying to get information from service providers who are based abroad can be really difficult and with the internet being open to all we can expect more apps and online services to have overseas developers.”
How do you see Digital Investigations developing in the future?
“While working in law enforcement, I was involved in some activity with digital accounts and devices which has only recently been considered as a viable tactic. As time progresses, I can see us being more audacious and that the Digital Investigator will play a more significant role in all investigations for both law enforcement and the private sector.
“With the constant evolution of technology, we will start to see opportunities for investigation into vehicle telematics, and communications and social media data will continue to evolve.”
What advice would you offer to someone who is new to the industry?
“I’d say that you need to be prepared to accept working under pressure and be able to adapt to change.
“Attending as many training courses as possible would be beneficial and keep up with CPD. Not only that, but self-learning is essential too as you won’t learn every aspect of digital investigation from training courses alone.
“Working as a team is vital and it is essential to ask for advice from colleagues and to share knowledge if you learn something new as we are all learning in an environment that is constantly developing.”
Do you have any interesting stories about cases you can tell us?
“A more unusual case, I was required to learn how Grindr, the male dating app, works as a user made a complaint of assault against a man he met through the app. Users are expected to disclose any ailments, particularly sexually transmitted diseases including being HIV positive on their profile, so any new partners are aware.
“In this case, it transpired that a user had failed to disclose that he was HIV positive on his profile and subsequently infected the victim, making him seriously ill. My role in the case was to identify the offender’s profile on Grindr, capture the information about his non-disclosure of illnesses and present this in evidence. Grindr is a location-based app and I navigated to the offender’s profile and captured the evidence which, in this case, made no mention of being HIV positive.
“Public Health England then played a part as it was apparent the suspect disregarded the welfare of others and posed a health risk.”
Which aspect of the DIU is your favourite to work on and why?
“I enjoy all aspects of digital investigation. However, I have spent a considerable amount of time training and working with Wi-Fi routers which seems to be an area many people shy away from, but the potential is underestimated.
“I recently gave evidence in a murder trial where router data was significant. In my evidence, I was required to give a technical explanation of event logs. With my experience in the area, working with routers, interpreting data and producing a report of findings is one of my favourites.”
Thank you very much to Simon for his time and insight into his career and the world of Digital Investigations.
For more information about our Digital Investigation Unit and how they can assist you, please contact us.