Officers and staff trained to track burglary suspects using digital clues

Police officers and staff across England and Wales are being trained to track burglary suspects by their digital footprints left behind at a crime scene.

Sep 18, 2023
By Paul Jacques
Picture: Greater Manchester Police

Digital devices typically leave a trail of evidence as wireless connections are made with masts and routers, which can reveal information such as a suspect’s last movements and place them at the scene of a crime.

The College of Policing says the training aims to broaden the knowledge of officers and staff and teach them how to take advantage of these digital clues, such as wireless connection data from digital devices and vehicles, and use them in their investigations to help solve crimes.

With criminals often leaving behind a digital trace at crime scenes, the training focuses on residential burglaries, which the college says is a particularly “invasive crime”.

This builds on guidance that was recently published by the college on how to conduct investigations as well as guidance which will be published later this month on practice advice on investigating residential burglaries.

David Tucker, College of Policing head of crime, said: “As the digital landscape changes and advances, so do criminals’ tactics and techniques. It’s so important that our police force stays up to date with new learning which reflects the evolving challenges of modern policing and new opportunities to combat crime.

“Burglary is an incredibly invasive crime that can leave victims feeling unsafe in their own homes. Teaching officers and staff about how burglars can operate in the digital landscape gives us more opportunities to spot clues and track suspects so we can catch criminals and keep the public safe.”

The college says this training has been designed for officers, staff, volunteers and call centre operatives likely to be involved in dealing with burglary, to ensure digital opportunities can be spotted and action taken at the earliest opportunity, from the initial report of the burglary to arrival at the scene.

Officers and staff will be taught about effective practices for tackling burglary in a digital landscape. This has been developed following an assessment of digital burglary practices across all 43 forces in England and Wales. It also includes advice on how police forces should seek to prevent offences of residential burglary taking place.

By the end, officers and staff will know how to:

  • Recognise the importance of providing appropriate digital advice from the first point of contact with the police call handlers and how this can support the investigative effort by securing digital evidence;
  • Understand the importance of pursuing and protecting investigative digital opportunities at the earliest opportunity before the suspects have an opportunity to tamper with the evidence remotely;
  • Deliver good victim care and provide advice around digital vulnerabilities such as password protection and how information is shared online.; and
  • Provide crime prevention advice such as how digital technology such as phone apps can be used to deter criminals.

This course can be accessed online via College Learn and is accessible to all officers and staff who work for any of the 43 forces in England and Wales.

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