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Detectives will be required to consider accessing telephone and internet records during every investigation under new plans to increase police use of communications data.

The policy is likely to significantly increase the number of requests for data received by ISPs and telephone operators.

Just as every investigation currently has to include a strategy to make use of its subjects' financial records, soon CID officers will be trained to always draw up a plan to probe their communications.

The plans have been developed by senior officers in anticipation of the implementation of the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), the government's multibillion pound scheme to massively increase surveillance of the internet by storing details of who contacts whom online.

Police moves to prepare for the glut of newly accessible data were revealed today by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Janet Williams. She predicted always considering communications data will lead to a 20 per cent increase in the productivity of CID teams.

She told The Register IMP had "informed thinking" about use of communications data, but denied the plans gave the lie to the government line that massively increased data retention will "maintain capability" of law enforcement to investigate crime.

More broadly, new National Police Improvement Agency guidelines will insist on computer training at every stage of development, so that once they are senior investigators, detectives will be "experts" in digital investigation. All current detectives will also be expected to acquire new skills.

Within two years, those without digital investigation skills will "be redundant", Williams warned. ®

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