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New body launched to enhance status of cyber investigators

New self-funding institute is outsourced under a contract with the College of Policing
Published - 05/05/2021 By - Gary Mason

A new body that will provide formal recognition for investigators who are cyber crime specialists has been launched by the College of Policing and the Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec)

The body  - the Institute of Cyber Digital Professionals (ICDIP) – has been set up to improve retention of police officers and staff with specialist cyber skills and increase trust in digital evidence given at court with the ambition that specialists will eventually be given expert witness status.

It was initially funded by the Home Office under a five-year trial and already has 800 members from 70 law enforcement agencies including all UK police forces, every Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCUs), the National Crime Agency and other agencies with investigative powers including the Department for Work and Pensions, HMRC, Trading Standards and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service.

Its remit is to measure the competency of practitioners to prove their expert status, and speed up the professionalisation of cyber digital investigation.

Individuals will be assessed against the Skills and Standards Framework (SSF) for practitioners and strategists involved in the investigation of cyber dependent and cyber-enabled crime across five job families including; Investigator, Intelligence, Interviewer, Forensic and Analyst, each having Skill Categories of Practitioner and Strategist as well as Membership Levels of Affiliate, Associate and Full Member

The idea for the organisation was started in September 2015 when the Home Office discussed with forces and CoP concerns that individuals working on cyber digital investigations were not recognised as a specialist profession. As a result, there were instances where the veracity of evidence presented at court had been challenged.

The Home Office commissioned the College of Policing to establish and run a project between 2016-2021, at the end of which they wanted the professionalisation of cyber and digital specialists in Law Enforcement to become self sustaining.

The team conducted some research to see if there were any accreditation schemes that could be used off the shelf for Law Enforcement investigations but there was "nothing suitable" according to a spokesperson for the project. .

In 2017 about a dozen candidates were put through the scheme as a pilot and the framework adjusted as a result of feedback. In 2018-20 more cohorts of candidates were put through the scheme and by April 2021 there were 800+ members. The focus of 2020/21 was to move from a Home Office funded project to a fully sustainable model. A tender process was ran and CIISec were the successful bidders.

The College of Policing now oversee the scheme with CIISec running it.It says the new body will:  

  • Increase trust in digital evidence, give greater weight in court cases and ensure fair convictions: The scheme was set up to address concerns that the evidence presented by police cybercrime officers in court cases was, in some cases, not being viewed as being from a professional specialist in their field. The ambition is now that the ICDIP accreditation will become accepted as providing evidence of the same standing as an expert witness, resulting in increased success at court in cases where digital evidence has contributed to the investigation.
  • Give cyber digital investigation professionals the skills they need to progress in their roles: It was also set up to address concerns that experienced officers and staff specialising in cyber and digital investigations were leaving policing and moving into the private sector. The ICDIP will provide a framework and structure to allow cyber digital specialists to gain formal recognition of their skills, leading to improved retention.

Sarra Fotheringham, Policing Standards Manager for Digital & Cyber at the College said: “The growing importance of cyber digital investigation skills in policing meant there needed to be

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