Digital crime and policing

Part of: Behind the frontline Protecting people online

Digital crimes are those which can be increased in scale by the use of computers, computer networks or other forms of ICT. Examples of digital crime include cyber-enabled fraud and data theft.

Most crimes today have a digital footprint. Policing needs to adapt and develop digital forensics. This is a branch of forensic science that focuses on identifying, acquiring, processing, analysing, and reporting on data stored electronically. Electronic evidence is a component of almost all criminal activities and digital forensics support is crucial for all types of investigations.

Electronic evidence can be collected from a range of sources, such as computers, smartphones, remote storage, smart devices, and more.

The main goal of digital forensics is to extract data from the electronic evidence, process it into actionable intelligence, and present the findings for prosecution.


An inspection into how well the police and other agencies use digital forensics in their investigations – 1 December 2022

We examined the provision of digital forensics in police forces and regional organised crime units. We considered whether they understood and could manage their demand, and whether victims of crime were receiving a quality service.

We made nine recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of digital forensic services.

A study of digital crime and policing – 22 December 2015

This study, carried out in 2015, was undertaken to help us understand better the effect that digital technology has on crime and policing, for the purpose of informing our future inspections of police forces and law enforcement agencies.