Analysis of a Training Package for Law Enforcement to Conduct Open Source Research

Analysis of a Training Package for Law Enforcement to Conduct Open Source Research

Joseph Williams (Canterbury Christ Church University, UK) and Georgina Humphries (Canterbury Christ Church University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2535-7.ch019
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Law enforcement officials (LEOs) in the UK conduct open source research (OSR) as part of their routine online investigations. OSR, in this instance, refers to publicly available information that is accessed via the Internet. As part of the research, identifying and tracing the electronic suspect (RITES) course provided by the UK's College of Policing, LEOs are introduced to the open source internet research tool (OSIRT); a free software tool designed to assist LEOs with OSR investigations. This article draws on analyses from questionnaires and observations from a RITES course; mapping them to Kirkpatrick's evaluation model. Results showed the positive impact the RITES course had in transferring knowledge back on-the-job, with LEOs applying knowledge learned to real-life investigative scenarios. Additionally, results showed OSIRT integrated both in the RITES course and into the LEOs investigative routine.
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Designing Training Courses for Law Enforcement and Applying Learning Styles

Similarly to courses structured for training law enforcement in digital forensic investigations (Genoe, Toolan, & McGourty, 2014; Stephens, 2012), the RITES course requires an ability to problem solve, pay attention to detail, and have a mindset for investigation and intelligence. Considerations are directed by course aims “to provide investigating officers with the skills necessary to obtain, evaluate and use online information … apply[ing] best practice in respect of proper authorization and recording processes for online investigations” (College of Policing, 2017, para. 3).

For a number of years, police training programs adopted a “militaristic environment” (Birzer, 2003, p.30) which a number of authors (Birzer, 2003; Haberfeld, Clarke, & Sheehan, 2011; Vodde, 2009) state is not conducive to learning, as “it is essential that training is conducted in such a way as to be as meaningful as possible to the adult participants” (Birzer & Roberson, 2007, p. 226). The RITES course adopts both andragogic (i.e. self-directed learning and sharing of experiences) and pedagogic (i.e. dictating learning in the form of traditional lectures) approaches to learning which seemingly prove efficacious when training police officers (Birzer, 2003; Haberfeld et al., 2011; Queen, 2016). Tong, Bryant, & Horvath (2009, p.210) state that “training and learning styles need to reflect that uncertainty of police work and the principles that should inform practice.” Traditionally, lecture style approaches to educating learners are “almost always the most inefficient way of learning” (Grace, 2001, p.125), and while it is unlikely for the RITES course to accommodate every style of learning, a concerted effort is made to engage their audience. By embracing modern approaches, College of Policing trainers afford the officers a better chance of applying their acquired skills to real-life scenarios.

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