An animated police car flashes across the screen and a shadowy figure makes a quick getaway - but this is not the latest computer game or cartoon, it is part of a new police training programme.
West Midlands Police yesterday launched a national computer- based training scheme for officers first on the scene of a crime where technology has been used in the offence. Electronic evidence requires careful forensic examination to ensure its integrity is preserved so it can be used in court.
Launching the programme, Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Hyde said the technology could be used at almost any crime scene, as long as they involved electronic or digital devices such as computers, palm pilots, mobile phones, cameras, iPods and even USB pens and watches.
He said: "This is a method for teaching officers about all things electronic. It is vital that police staff and officers are trained to investigate technology-based criminality. That can include all kinds of things - hate crime, image crime, lists of stolen goods, online child abuse, online fraud activity or serious and organised crime."
He said officers who completed the assessed High Tech Crime First Responder E-Learning Programme would be better equipped to identify how they can use technology to further their investigations.
Training will provide officers with the knowledge and skills to improve how they deal with technology-based evidence when they arrive at a crime scene, making them more effective when it comes to seizing digital evidence.
Nigel Jones, head of high tech crime training at the National Specialist Law Enforcement Centre which developed the programme, said digital evidence, when handled correctly, could spare vulnerable victims having to give evidence at court.
He said: "It teaches officers how to handle electronic evidence correctly. This is particularly useful when investigating things like terrorism because it means evidence seized by police on computers can later be used in court proceedings."