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Case Study: Working with West Yorkshire Police to improve the investigation of cybercrime

Leeds Beckett University is leading a research collaboration between academics and police to improve and incorporate an evidence-based approach to digital forensics and cybercrime investigations.

This research has received £640,000 in funding. Cybercrime police officers will receive research training and will work with Leeds Beckett academics on research projects to identify and address weaknesses in police processes.

The planned collaboration, reported on the Leeds Beckett website will involve the entire Digital Forensics Unit and Cybercrime Unit from West Yorkshire Police (19 officers in total). It will provide them with training and personal development and will enable them to take an active research role, under the supervision of Leeds Beckett academics. In addition, two postdoctoral researchers will be deployed on-site at West Yorkshire Police to facilitate the work.

Following an initial needs analysis, force staff will work with academics to identify research project priorities. For 12 months, members of both police units will have dedicated time (two days per week) for research and collaboration. This will involve, working on a portfolio of research and training development projects, which will be based on existing literature and the needs analysis. This will feed into the design and development of training and will improve the techniques and tools used in the fight against cybercrime.

As part of the collaboration, research culture and capacity will be developed within West Yorkshire Police. Through collaborative knowledge exchange and development, we will produce research results that will provide tools and training materials that will enable police forces to more efficiently and effectively process digital evidence and cybercrime cases.

In conclusion, cybercrime is not exclusively a technical problem. Our research analyses the investigation lifecycle, including the experience of the public when reporting cybercrime, the call taker, the attending officer, investigators, and the Crown Prosecution Service, with the aim of identifying key knowledge gaps and needs in the policing of cybercrime.

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