Digital investigation requirements for frontline officers explored at Police Digital Academy conference


A conference has been held to explore how frontline police officers can be further supported in their role to keep people safe and investigate crime by enhancing digital investigation skills.

The conference held by the Police Digital Academy in Liverpool today (27 July) saw over 120 people attend representing police forces across the North West region, academic organisations, support agencies, College of Policing and the Police Digital Service (PDS).

The conference heard a number of presentations and case studies covering findings from the first phase of research undertaken by the Police Digital Academy’s Digital Research Hub.

The findings followed evidence-based research into a range of themes including domestic abuse investigations and road safety. The research showed that enhancing digital investigation skills and improving education for frontline officers will support police forces in securing more convictions, supporting victims and preventing crime.

Work is now ongoing to build a digital skills toolkit for frontline officers.

Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Blackwell, Cumbria Constabulary, said:

“The Police Digital Academy aims to deliver effective and relevant evidence-based training on digital skills to police officers and staff across the country.

“We must move away from creating fixed training courses for our frontline, which can take years to roll out.

“Technology continues to change at pace, which means the threats and opportunities that changing technology provides is also developing quickly. The Police Digital Academy was created so we can keep up with changing technology in order to protect the public from harm, as well as taking advantage of the many opportunities technology provides policing.

“To do this, we must mainstream digital investigation skills across the frontline and not treat digital investigation as a specialist area alone. Police officers are attending incidents each day which have digital elements connected to them, therefore we must continually equip them with the information to effectively do their role.

“The Digital Research Hub provides us the evidence of what skills frontline policing needs and will inform the Police Digital Academy’s training delivery and content.

“I am grateful for the support which has been provided so far to the Police Digital Academy by the many agencies and organisations that have assisted with our research. I am also grateful for the funding the Academy has received from the national Science, Technology, Analysis and Research (STAR) Programme to do this research.

“The Academy’s next steps includes the roll out of training to forces in the North West region in the autumn and the development of a digital toolkit for frontline officers, utilising the PDS platform.”

Professor Paul Taylor, Chief Scientific Adviser for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said:

“I was delighted to attend the conference and hear the findings from the Digital Research Hub because it is dealing with an important issue of digital forensics and digital policing.

“This work brings together academia, industry and policing in a partnership which will accelerate our capabilities, and ultimately feed into skills training to better policing.”


Police Digital Academy: ACC Jonathan Blackwell
Police Digital Academy: ACC Jonathan Blackwell

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