Police forces have started recruiting for the UK’s first digital forensic apprenticeships, with organisations urged to come forward now if they want to take part in the first cohort.

Nottinghamshire Police is the first force to post a job profile for a digital investigation and evidence apprenticeship.

The first cohort of apprentices is scheduled to start in January 2024.

Police forces using the national qualification will have the training costs for new recruits covered by the government’s apprenticeship levy. It can provide a long-term solution to retention with nine out of ten apprentices remaining in the same company after training, according to the Department for Education.

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.

Two learning providers – Blue Lights Digital and Staffordshire University – have been brought onboard to provide training alongside participating police forces.

Many police forces and national bodies such as the National Crime Agency and Serious Fraud Office are already well-advanced in their preparations, and intend to start recruiting for vacancies in the coming weeks. Any UK organisation planning on entry-level DF recruitment could use the apprenticeship.

Once the apprenticeship is fully established, there are likely to be around 15-20 apprentices per cohort, with a number of intakes per year depending on demand from forces.

The apprenticeship has been developed by FCN, which since 2021 has led a trailblazer group of forces, private providers and academics to create a high-quality product linked to operational demand.

Going forwards, as police forces recruit for their cohorts of DF apprentices, FCN will provide advice and troubleshooting as well as running drop-in sessions for force mentors.

It will also continue running the trailblazer group to develop plans for a more senior Level 7 advanced digital forensic apprenticeship.

FCN’s Paula Mulroy, who has led on developing the apprenticeship, said:

“This apprenticeship can help police forces attract and retain the next generation of digital forensic experts. It’s not too late for forces to recruit for the first cohort, all they need to do is get in touch.

“Recently the government has reformed how apprenticeships are delivered and funded – they’re more robust, better structured and independently assessed to give apprentices the skills their employer needs. We’re excited to get the first apprentices in place.”

Find out more in FCN’s digital forensic apprenticeship employer factsheet.