A cross-sector group representing more than 30 organisations has developed UK policing’s first digital forensic apprenticeship, in a bid to boost recruitment and grow talent in the profession.

FCN’s ‘trailblazer’ group represented by police forces, private-sector companies, universities and several professional bodies has developed the plans over recent months.

The new digital forensic apprenticeship is based on the draft professional profile of a digital forensic technician as set out by the College of Policing. Anyone aged 18 and over could be eligible for the apprenticeship, which is scheduled to be available from March 2023.

Through the course, apprentices will learn how to support major crimes, incidents, operations or any investigation that require specialist digital forensic investigative assistance. This could involve digital forensics capture and processing of digital evidence at the crime scene.

Proposals for newly created apprenticeship courses must be submitted to the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, which oversees apprenticeship standards in the UK. Plans by FCN’s group were approved by the Institute in June.

Police forces are under increasing pressure to meet digital forensic demands, with a backlog of 21,000 devices waiting to be analysed.

To tackle the challenge of recruitment and retention, NPCC’s digital forensic science strategy called for “measures [which] will build a ‘skills pipeline’ to reinforce the workforce on a continuing basis” such as apprenticeships.

FCN’s workforce manager Paula Mulroy said:

“The work to progress this new apprenticeship is progressing well and on target. We’ll be sharing more details nearer the time on how organisations and apprentices can get involved.”

The trailblazer group is now finalising the knowledge, skills and behaviours for the role and developing the end-point assessment. Learning providers will be engaged to help deliver the apprenticeship. 

FCN’s group intends to develop a more senior Level 7 digital forensic apprenticeship later this year. 

Read more about FCN’s workforce strategy. Contact paula.mulroy@dorset.pnn.police.uk for more information.