Cell Site Analysis To Determine Mobile Phone Movement

Forensic Access has many years of experience at undertaking Cell Site Analysis of mobile phone data for criminal (prosecution and defence) cases. Our forensic experts use cell site investigation and analysis to determine the likely location of a mobile phone through the detailed examination of call data records, often in conjunction with mobile phone network surveys.

The cell site analysis experts used by Forensic Access are some of the most experienced investigators in the UK. They have significant experience in working for both prosecution and defence. Our cell site experts have given evidence in Court at a large number of criminal trials, which includes a number of high profile cases.

Cell Site Analysis has been historically used for serious crime investigations and their subsequent court trials. In the late 1990’s, prosecution cases were supported by the analysis of mobile telecommunication traffic data, but this was restricted at that time to the most serious of trials. It was inevitable that the usage of telecommunication data would be demanded as a necessity in complex cases. It became used as an intelligence tool to rebuild the history as to the movement of criminals, to identify preparatory activity and to show geographical attendance against a reliable timeline. As many murder cases then used Cell Site Analysis many more trials became eligible for the support of this ‘expert opinion’.

In recent years, the level at which the prosecution have relied on cell site analysis has been relaxed to include cases such as burglary, commercial vehicle thefts, Road Traffic Collisions resulting in death, arson and assault. It appeared that any offence where imprisonment was likely would or could include the opportunity to draw on Cell Site Analysis.

Our cell site experts can also assist with mobile phone attribution, call pattern analysis and training for both lawyers and law enforcement.

How Cell Site Analysis Works

When a mobile phone powers up, it performs a network search by sending out a signal. This signal is received by a local cell site and various checks are carried out in order to validate the mobile onto its correct network.

This process is called “Registration” and happens during the few seconds when the mobile performs its start-up tune. The process is complete when the network icon appears on the screen, the mobile is now ready to make or receive calls, or to connect to the internet.
Once a mobile has registered with the network, it is ready to make, or receive a call, text message, or connect to the internet.

Once a mobile has started a call through a local cell site, the data is stored by the network, Vodafone for example. The call will be routed through the Vodafone core network to the receiving mobile via the T-Mobile cell site and core network for example. Data is stored by both networks during the course of the call, although the amount of data stored differs between networks.

Cell Site Analysis – Forensic Examination

Or forensic mobile phone experts can use Cell Site Analysis (CSA) techniques to provide:

  • support for the attribution or association of a mobile phone number to a person;
  • support for the attribution or association of a mobile phone number to an address;
  • call pattern analysis and patterns of movement of mobile phones between areas or locations;
  • support for, or repudiation of, contentions such as of a mobile phone being used at a location.

There are, however, limitations to Cell Site Analysis and this forensic discipline cannot provide information on who was using a particular mobile phone at any specified time or the absolute location of a phone.

Our Cell Site Analysis Expertise

Cell site analysis evidence has never been more complex and we believe that it is vital to use experienced, qualified experts who have a background in planning and optimisation within a mobile phone network provider. Our experts are highly experienced investigators who have many years of experience in law enforcement, telecoms and private sector forensics, having produced over 750 cell site reports for our Criminal Justice System and have given evidence in hundreds of trials.

Time and again their analysis and evidence has stood up to the strictest scrutiny, and has proved evidentially robust in all cases. They will supply a jargon free report supported by a set of jury friendly maps and colour coded call schedules.

Our cell site mobile phone experts adhere to part 19 of the Criminal Procedure Rules and part 35 of the Civil Procedure Rules. All defence work is completed within Legal Aid Agency funding guidelines.

Cell site analysis of mobile phones: forensic expertise to help determine mobile phone movement and expert witness presentation to the Courts

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