Systematically assessing the competence level of digital evidence handling


  • Odin Heitmann The National Criminal Investigation Service and Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Katrin Franke Norwegian University of Science and Technology


Norway is among the most digitalized countries in the world. For ex-ample, more than 91% of the citizens use mobile phones, and even more than 98% have access to the Internet. Hence, almost all kinds of criminal cases inves-tigated by the Norwegian police include digital evidence. Within the police or-ganization, various roles and responsibilities exist, ranging from first responders arriving and securing crime scenes, to police investigators, analysts, forensic sci-entists, and prosecutors. They will all need to handle digital evidence according to their work tasks. Available skilled personnel with education in digital forensics accounted for only 2% of the available personnel in 2018. To assess the skill level of first responders in securing digital evidence at crime scenes, derive knowledge needs and recommend adequate training, we conducted a large-scale field study. This paper presents our methodology in detail, comprising i) a theoretical com-petency assessment and ii) a practical test. Our findings indicate deficiencies in the examination phase of digital evidence, and there are indications that a digital evidence verification system is missing before the evidence is presented in court. Further findings are discussed in this paper before we propose several activities for decision makers to implement and to improve digital competence and digital understanding for personnel in law enforcement agencies.