Put your digital investigative skills to the test with Operation Modify

Published on 6 September 2021
Our interactive resource helps you develop your awareness of smart technologies, work through a case and solve a crime – one episode at a time
6 mins read
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Operation Modify helps new and serving officers, police staff and volunteers to acquire the digital skills they need to undertake investigations effectively.

It consists of 10 episodes released through College Learn (you will need to log in to this). They follow the events from the beginning of an initial incident to show how to identify sources of digital evidence and respond to digital opportunities. All episodes are available now.

The learning outcomes of the Op Modify series, now available as a boxset, map directly onto the digital elements of the policing education qualifications framework (PEQF).

It can be used as supporting material for the police constable degree apprenticeship (PCDA), PIP level 1 and fast track entry. It is a suitable next step after completion of the digital foundation 1 programme and as preparation for the upcoming digital foundation 2 programme. 

  • Episode one: 'Digital Media – Internet of Things' provides basic digital advice and shows you how to identify which smart devices could be discovered.
  • Episode two: 'Digital Scene Management' shows you how to secure and handle any devices needed for investigation and how to ensure that evidence is not corrupted, lost or deleted and the importance of the 'golden hour' scene preservation protocol and how to prioritise evidence.
  • Episode three: 'Core Digital Data Collection' tells you how to search for social media evidence effectively, corroborate digital evidence from different sources, maintain the integrity of captured media and equips you with the best practice for witness submission of images, video and audio as evidence.
  • Episode four: 'CCTV and ANPR' shows you how to establish the evidential value and limitations of CCTV, as well as the best-practice protocols surrounding CCTV seizure and access. You will learn how to collect and store CCTV security and surveillance footage correctly, finding out how to explain the legislative and procedural considerations prior to CCTV retrieval. You will get an understanding of the different purposes of CCTV and ANPR and the added value of ANPR to an investigation.
  • Episode five: 'Core Digital Data Collation and Interpretation' runs you through how to interpret data from specialist units and understand when it is appropriate to seize a device. You will discover the non-specialist tools and techniques that you can use to collect, view and seize data from digital devices and understand how digital media investigators can help your investigation.
  • Episode six: 'Digital Forensics' focuses on reviewing the evidence collected so far, and what forensic services might be used to help the investigation. It also covers the legislation and policy governing search and seizure, digital witnesses and device interactions.
  • Episode seven: 'MISPERS' focuses on what digital opportunities there are to identify, locate and help trace a missing person. It also covers the 'golden hour' actions that the initial investigating officer should take, legislative authority, traceability tools and the levels of missing person definitions.
  • Episode eight: 'Online Fraud' covers identifying and investigating online fraud, including when to refer a victim to Action Fraud and the method that criminals can use – from phishing to dating scams.
  • Episode nine: 'Internet, Intelligence and Investigation (III)' focuses on using the internet to gather information, intelligence and evidence as part of an III strategy.
  • Episode 10: 'Digital Victims and Witness Support' shows you what immediate advice can be given and what initial safeguarding actions should be taken. Vulnerable groups may be more likely to become victims of digital crime and the episode shows how appropriate behaviours and attitudes should be applied to victims. 'The Verdict' summarises the operation and, depending on the answers to a set of questions, will determine how the prosecution of the case proceeds. Will the investigation produce a good outcome?

During the interactive learning sessions you will work with a virtual partner and team and – as the investigation unfolds – it becomes clear there is more to the initial incident than first thought. Learners with a police force email address are encouraged to sign in to Knowledge Hub where you can find useful supplementary information to enhance your digital skills. Watch our video to find out how to sign up to Knowledge Hub, run by the Police ICT Company, and access our range of digital intelligence and investigation (DII) resources.

The Policing Vision 2025 plan and a 'Real lives, real crime' report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service (HMICFRS) both identified the effect that digital crime is having on policing. The reports also found a need for policing to better support and advise victims of crime and recommended better awareness of how to investigate and gather digital evidence.

Our interactive learning tool aims to tackle some of these recommendations and provide officers and staff with general digital policing skills so that they can respond appropriately to response calls: triaging the situation, protecting evidence and identifying if specialist support is needed.

Op Modify covers the digital subject areas that have been identified by policing as the priority areas for skills development. Give it a go.