Upleveling the police’s digital expertise

With over 20,000 officers expected to join the police force by 2024, the College of Policing recognised an opportunity to harness the digital expertise of the younger cohort and channel it into modern policing challenges. Their aim was to upskill more experienced, but perhaps less tech-savvy, officers so that the police force is collectively armed against even the most innovative crimes. It was with this goal that the College of Policing appointed us in April 2020 to design and deliver an innovative solution.

Accessible, effective and engaging gamification solution

As part of its commitment to ensure the professional development of officers, staff and volunteers in the digital sphere, the College of Policing needed to implement an engaging and thought-provoking learning and development course. To this end, we designed a gamified, ‘point-and-click’ digital series called Op Modify.

Op Modify consisted of 10 modules. Each episode focused on a different type of crime, following the events from the very beginning to demonstrate how digital resources can be used to solve crimes. Module four, for example, demonstrated to officers how they could use social media to search for and corroborate evidence, while module eight focused on online fraud. This allowed officers to acquire a rounded yet detailed knowledge of the invaluable role technology can play in progressing investigations.

Each module finished with a debrief or short quiz designed to test the participants’ knowledge. Once an officer had completed all the modules, they would be told how many criminals they would have succeeded at convicting if these virtual scenarios had been real cases.

The gamification of the learning created an engaging and accessible way for the college to educate learners by presenting the key takeaways in a memorable format. This was enhanced by the highly visual nature of the game – we used colourful animations of both settings and characters to improve learner retention.

To help officers consolidate the knowledge gained through Op Modify, we also developed further learning resources accessible through an app. The idea was that police officers could use these extra resources as a ‘just in time’ tool to refresh their knowledge when at a scene.

Learning that creates confident and equipped police 

Participants found the modules informative, easy to follow and engaging, and many noticed a real development in the way they used digital opportunities after completing the training. In evaluation feedback, as part of the programme review:

  • 100% of those surveyed said they would recommend the training to a colleague.
  • 99% felt their confidence had increased.
  • 97% said the course was a useful way to learn.

In an extremely powerful testament to Op Modify, one officer secured a retrospective conviction because of the learnings he took from the resource. Following completion of the modules, he revisited an old case and used his newfound knowledge to identify an unpunished offender, demonstrating how hugely valuable the programme has been to the police force.

Inspector Mark Gee from North Yorkshire Police said: “I’ve recently completed the Op-Modify episodes. I found them informative and useful, and they’ve had a real impact on my day-to-day role.”

The College of Policing has released a video outlining how the gamification learning tool aids police in high-risk missing person investigation:

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