Cybercrime game helps train 100 officers

Dr Natalie Coull with the training tool
Dr Natalie Coull with the training tool
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An innovative game co-developed by Abertay University to train police in handling digital evidence has been live tested by almost 100 officers.

A partnership between Abertay, private company Droman Crime Solutions and Police Scotland led to the creation of a serious game that can be used to train police first responders in how to deal with cybercrime.

The game can be played on a tablet, smartphone or desktop computer, allowing users to interact with a virtual environment and make decisions about applying legislation and police powers.

Trainees move around a virtual apartment finding possible evidence and answering questions about legislation and legal procedures.

The game was featured on BBC’s Crimewatch yesterday (Thursday) and more than 90 Police Scotland officers have now been trained to use it.

It teaches them how to recognise and secure different networked and isolated digital devices, recording vital evidence that could be lost if the device is not handled properly.

By playing, users also learn when to call for more expert support and how to provide advice to victims.

The game can be easily and quickly updated to reflect changes in technology, helping staff maintain skills.

Financial backing from the Scottish Funding Council’s Interface scheme allowed Droman to spend more than a year working with Abertay and Police Scotland to develop the learning tool.

Paddy Tomkins, chairman of Droman Crime Solutions, said: “When we started our project with Police Scotland to develop an innovative approach to training over 12,000 police officers in how to deal with the fast growing and evolving challenge of cybercrime we also needed a partner from the university sector.

“Abertay University stood out, with its established reputation for reliability in advising the police on computer security and digital forensics, excellence in gaming technology and design, and a pragmatic attitude to business and intellectual property.

“The University, staff and students have been energetic, imaginative and fully engaged throughout our collaboration, with clear benefits for all parties.

“Joint presentations and papers to professional and academic conferences have raised the profile of the University and our work to develop better trained and more confident police officers.

“Our aim is for this to become a long term relationship in which we can reinvest in the University, boosting learning and employment opportunities for graduates.”

Abertay experts, Dr Natalie Coull, Dr Ian Ferguson and Dr Iain Donald helped to develop the prototype with the help of former student team Hyper Luminal, now an independent games studio.

Dr Coull said: “It’s great to see this game developing further and it has the potential to be of great assistance to thousands of police personnel who might be the first responders to an incident of cybercrime.”

For more information on cybersecurity and computer games courses at Abertay visit https://www.abertay.ac.uk/discover/academic-schools/arts-media-computer-games/