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Police cybercrime units hailed

Every police force in England and Wales now has a dedicated cybercrime unit, a launch event heard, held by National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) Lead for Cybercrime, Derbyshire Chief Constable Peter Goodman.

The event was hosted by the new West Midlands Cybercrime Unit, in place since November 2018. Goodman said: “I am absolutely delighted to announce this significant step forward in improving the overall response to cybercrime in England and Wales. In the last six years we have introduced a robust national and regional network of dedicated cybercrime units at national and regional level but we were still lacking a local response. as part of the Team Cyber UK network.

“Every police force now has a cybercrime unit, which will investigate and pursue offenders, help businesses and victims protect themselves from attack and work with partners to prevent vulnerable individuals from being drawn into committing cybercrime. These units will improve our response to cybercrime working closely with national and regional units. This is a great start and lays down a solid foundation for each force to build on.”

Police say this will mean victims receive a consistent response and receive contact and prevention advice from police after a report. For individuals and businesses alike, a lack of action by police and the authorities generally on cyber-crime has long been a bugbear, even though the Office for National Statistics in its crime survey for England and Wales found fraud and computer offences to be the most occurring crime (once they began including it in their survey). The Action Fraud reporting line – most frauds having a cyber element – has also been widely criticised, so much so that the April print issue of Professional Security magazine featured a complaint that Action Fraud deliberately made it hard for people to report cases. A recent Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) report supported that, finding that some forces were deliberately suppressing demand, to match (austerity-hit) capacity.

Forces have accessed £7m of Home Office funding this year to build the cybercrime units – including recruiting specialist officers and staff to the units and spend on technology, equipment and training. Home Office and National Cyber Security Programme funding will continue through 2019/20 and 20/21.

Home Office Security and Economic Crime Minister Ben Wallace said: “While cyber criminals hide behind their screens, their actions have a huge impact on businesses and individuals.

“Being the victim of a hack can be frightening, embarrassing and costly. The new specialist cybercrime teams are a vital tool when it comes to preventing this type of crime, pursuing the perpetrators and protecting victims. Crime is changing and so must we. These cyber units, supported by Home Office funding, are a clear symbol of that shift.”

The new teams will be coordinated and supported by the Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs) to ensure investigations are undertaken at the right level, prevent duplication of effort and are effectively managed across the country. They are able to call on the extra support and assistance of the National Cybercrime Units (NCCU). According to the authorities, the new teams complete a Team Cyber UK network working at a local, regional, national and international level to provide a robust response to all levels of cyber criminality. That recent HMIC report, Fraud: Time to Choose, found shortcomings at every level; from strategic leadership to lack of consistent, or any, response to victims.


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