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Forces recruiting for the UK?s first digital forensic apprenticeships

Police forces using the national qualification will have the training costs for new recruits covered by the government?s apprenticeship levy.
Published - 17/08/2023 By - Cash Boyle

Nottinghamshire Police has become the first force to advertise for a digital investigation and evidence apprentice, as part of a qualification developed by the Forensic Capability Network (FCN).

The Digital Forensic Technician Apprenticeship Level 4 standard has recently been approved by the Chartered Institute for IT, the Institute of Cyber Digital Investigation Professionals (ICDIP), and the Chartered Institute for Information Security.

FCN’s Paula Mulroy, who has led on its development since 2021, believes it "can help police forces attract and retain the next generation of digital forensic experts".

“We all know the challenge posed by digital forensics, with ever-increasing caseloads and technology that never stands still.

"By making it easier to bring new staff on-board and training them in the latest techniques as they progress, the apprenticeship will be a valuable way for employers to build a ‘skills pipeline’ that mitigates the risk of staff shortages in this vital field.”

The role of the apprentice in Nottinghamshire will involve utilising a 'range of proprietary hardware and software to support the extraction and analysis of evidence from a range of devices and crime scenes'.

According to a job profile posted by the force, the apprentice will work with a range of digital investigation teams during the two-year programme.

The impact of viewing traumatic material on brain development was considered during the development phase, with the National Police Wellbeing Service to explore this. 

An evidenced-based paper ultimately found that it is appropriate for young people to work in digital forensic units, providing they are protected as much as possible.

Forces that use this national qualification will have the training costs for new recruits covered by the government’s apprenticeship levy.

Ms Mulroy has praised the government for recently reforming how apprenticeships are funded and delivered, arguing that they're now "more robust, better structured and independently assessed to give apprentices the skills their employer needs".

Though Nottinghamshire is the first force to publicly advertise for the post, the FCN says that preparations to do so are under way in organisations including the NCA and Serious Fraud Office.

The first cohort are expected to start in January 2024; once fully established, there are likely to be around 15-20 apprentices per cohort.

Alongside the participating forces, Blue Lights Digital and Staffordshire University have been brought onboard to provide training.

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