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Policing in a Digital World: Competencies and Training for Canadian Law Enforcement’

Policing in a Digital World: Competencies and Training for Canadian Law Enforcement

As part of ongoing efforts to enhance competency-based management tools, resources, and learning for Canadian police, CPKN is working to develop nationally relevant digital competencies and training to ensure police services can appropriately respond to the proliferation of digital evidence and cybercrime.

Cybercrime, cyber-related incidents, and digital technologies are an increasingly common part of police work in Canada and around the globe. In 2019, Manhattan District Attorney’s office noted that more than one-quarter of felony indictments in Manhattan involved a cyber component, and in Europe the European Commission estimated that 85% of criminal investigations included some electronic evidence.

Policing in the 21st century requires competencies that account for the expanding footprint of digital evidence that police officers are expected to understand, collect, and investigate in a forensically-sound manner.

While many Canadian law enforcement agencies operate specialized units for digital forensics, child sexual exploitation, and technology-on-technology crime, it is unrealistic to expect a handful of highly trained individuals to respond to every call for service that has a digital or cyber aspect. Empowering first responders to effectively deal with crimes on the cyber spectrum—by securing digital evidence, conducting preliminary investigative steps, and making appropriate referrals in more complex investigations—is key to enhancing Canadian law enforcement’s capacity in an increasingly digital world. CPKN’s Cybercrime Training and Digital Competency Development for Canadian Law Enforcement project, which is funded in part by Public Safety Canada, will support Canadian police services in this work.

In Phase 1 of the project, CPKN developed a Competency-Based Management Framework For Digital Competencies in Canadian Policing (Cadre de gestion axé sur les compétences pour les compétences numériques des policiers canadiens). Based on a review of global practices and extensive consultations with Canadian cybercrime experts, cybercrime trainers, police investigators, and first responders, the framework outlines 10 digital competencies for 10 policing roles, including uniformed first responders, investigators, and unit managers and can be readily adapted to fit the unique needs of individual police services. It will help to ensure members, regardless of role, are appropriately equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively deal with cyber-related crime and evidence.


Phase 2 of the project is now underway. Using information gathered during Phase 1, which indicated a substantial need for cyber-training for generalist roles such as first responders and general duties investigators/detectives, CPKN will work with subject matter experts from the police community to update and/or develop bilingual training to enhance ability of frontline personnel to respond to cybercrime incidents. This training will be available to Canadian police and public safety agencies in March 2022.

For more information about this project, please contact:

Krystine Richards

Director, Outreach and Communications