"It’s so interesting, it’s so rewarding, and it’s a challenge"
Digital Technical Engineer, Counter Terrorism Policing
A career in Counter Terrorism Policing is like no other. Each and every role works in partnership to help confront the terrorist threat, whilst thriving to keep the public safe.
The national network stretches across the UK and sees the employment of specialist officers and staff, who work around the clock to find information and evidence to thwart terrorist planning and bring perpetrators to justice. In short, roles in Counter Terrorism can save lives; every single employee is seen as an asset to national security. This month, we’re giving a deeper insight into some of the roles available to a range of people with a vast variety of skills and interests.
The network is currently working on a record number of more than 800 investigations. Investigative leads have doubled, caseloads are up 22%, surveillance is at full stretch on critical targets and the amount of digital data to find and wade through has grown significantly.
Pieces of extremist content removed online since 2010
Roles within the digital field are extremely valuable, as those with specific technical knowledge and skills help to exploit terrorists’ digital footprint for crucial evidence gathering. The data gathered and analysed can reveal a deeper understanding of terrorist motivation and behaviour. For example one piece of information extracted from a mobile phone or a computer, no matter how small, could have the potential to save lives.
Digital Technology is at the forefront of what everyone is doing, almost everyone around the world is online. National security services continually have to find new ways to access digital content, which is forever evolving. The size of devices is also changing…before you used to have a computer and maybe a phone that had a small memory but now most have a computer, a laptop, a kindle, a tablet and a mobile phone; which all have extensive memory space. Think about the wealth of digital content that someone has in their life now and the amount of data to go though and analyse. Roles like those of a Digital Technical Engineer help to develop technologies that help find that needle in the haystack.
Essentially, my role is to do with all things data. There might be an instance where a Digital Forensic Examiner has found a database hidden inside an app, so they’ll ask me to take a look and see if we can join things together, there might be hidden messages in there that we need to uncover and piece together. Can we work out from that who was talking to who? So, a bit of reverse engineering sometimes! I’ve spent the last twelve weeks working on a project to develop natural language processing. It would allow us to do a search for ‘Islamic State’, for example, as ‘IS’. Where most search engines return with the word ‘is’, this gives us the correct results.
I would definitely recommend this career, it has been by far the best job I’ve had in the last decade. It’s so interesting, it’s so rewarding, and it’s a challenge and the kind of challenge that makes you feel good about what you’ve done. You definitely do get that feeling that you do make a difference at the end of the day.
For a student we would want them to have a good STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) background. We’re not too fussed on their level. We’ve had people come in with physics backgrounds, engineering backgrounds, computing backgrounds. As long as you’ve got the aptitude and the willingness to learn and push yourself and develop, then we’re quite happy to give people a chance.
What’s stopping you? Find out more about the careers available in Counter Terrorism Policing…