‘A Practical Guide to Digital Communications Evidence in Criminal Law’ by Sam Willis


Paperback: 978-1-914608-74-2
Published: April 2023
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Technology has changed the way we communicate with each other, for better or for worse. The result is that most criminal investigations now involve some aspect of digital communications evidence – be it mobile telephones seized from suspects, call data obtained from mobile network operators, or records taken from social media platforms.

This book is for practitioners looking to understand the most common types of digital communications evidence used in criminal prosecutions. From cell site mapping through to mobile telephone extraction, each category of evidence is explained and the relevant law set out. The uses and limitations are explored, as well as a focus on how best the evidence can be presented or challenged before judge and jury. Although primarily aimed at junior advocates and litigators, it is also intended to be a quick reference guide for those more senior.

Part One contains a chapter on each category of evidence, covering: Mobile Telephone Extraction, SIM Card Extraction, Call Data Records, Subscriber Checks, Cell Site Evidence, IP Address Resolution, and Intercept Material. Part Two deals with the relevant notices and warrants under RIPA 2000 and IPA 2016. Part Three is focused on disclosure: how it should be managed, what review tools are available, and how complainants should be treated.


Sam Willis is a specialist criminal barrister at 5 King’s Bench Walk, acting for both prosecution and defence. His practice is focused on serious and complex cases, usually involving violence, weapons, drugs, and fraud.

Prior to his work as a barrister, Sam was an IT developer specialising in mobile applications and data analysis. He is regularly instructed in cases that require a sound technical understanding of digital evidence and the law that applies to it. He has published several mobile apps which are widely used by solicitors and barristers working in criminal law, and he sits on the Bar Council’s IT Panel.


Part One – Types of Evidence
Mobile Telephone Extraction
SIM Card Extraction
Call Data Records
Subscriber Checks
Cell Site Evidence
IP Address Resolution
Intercept Material
Prison Intercepts
Foreign Intercepts
Encrypted Messaging Intercepts

Part Two – Notices and Warrants
Section 49 RIPA Notices
Targeted Interception Warrants
Targeted Equipment Interference Warrants

Part Three – Disclosure
Managing Disclosure
Disclosure Tools
Complainants – Mobile Telephone Extraction