The police force is conducting a major upgrade of its electronic crimes labs in response to increasing demand for analysis of electronic evidence.
E-crimes labs national manager Maarten Kleintjes says the Wellington lab has been moved to a bigger location and fitted out with new equipment, while the Auckland lab is also being refitted and a third lab is being built in Dunedin, to be opened in February.
When the Dunedin lab is up and running, the e-crimes labs will have 17 employees, a huge jump from the four presently employed.
Recruitment processes are being finalised, Kleintjes says, to ensure people with appropriate qualifications are employed.
Police requirements regarding electronic evidence have changed hugely since the mid-1980s, when Kleintjes migrated to New Zealand from Holland to work in the new police signals processing operation. Signals processing involves clearing background noise from communications intercepted by police.
"We've been doing signals processing since 1984 and data processing, including recovering deleted data from computers and tapes, since 1993," says Kleintjes.
Police involvement in computer forensics pre-dates that of other government departments and the private sector, he says, and the growth in demand for computer forensics and monitoring of electronic communications has been on a curve similar to that of internet use in that time.
Most crime contains electronic evidence of some sort, he says, a high profile example being the David Bain murder case in which a disputed piece of evidence concerned an entry written on a computer at the Bain family home.