Authors: Sally Kelty (University of Canberra), Emma McQueen (University of Canberra), Carly Pymont (University of Canberra), and Nathan Green (Australian Federal Police)



Recent evidence suggests digital forensics personnel are at risk of developing burnout and job-related/occupational stress. This may be due to increased and repetitive exposure to challenging incidents, either face to face or via digital imagery in real time or post-event. This exposure includes footage of extreme violence, child exploitation, suicide and death scenes. The risk of stress also aligns with the changing nature of policing where rates of serious crime, especially robbery and homicide have decreased, while digital crime rates in many countries have increased, which has changed workload demands and requiring new skillsets in addition to traditional investigation methods. Occupational stress has high financial and personal costs, impacting organisations, work teams, family, friends and the individual in question. For organisations and teams, occupational stress is associated with increases in workplace accidents, higher absenteeism, early retirement, higher intentions to quit, lower motivation and disillusionment with work tasks, all of which impacts on the cohesion of forensic teams. The aim of this paper is to present the results from a mixed studies critical review on the small, but growing body of evidence on organisational risk factors for occupational stress, and to present key targeted strategies that forensic science and policing agencies can take to manage these risk factors in their digital forensics teams.

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