UK Police Cyber Training Spend Revealed

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Is that all? British police spent just £1.3m on cyber training for staff in the last three years

British forces have spent a tiny amount of money over the last three years on training its staff on cybersecurity issues.

Freedom of Information requests to all the UK’s police forces were made by a think tank called Parliament Street (PS).

It found that British police had spent just £1.3m in cyber training for nearly 40,000 officers and staff over the last three years.

Cyber training

The PS report highlighted official data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that has shown that that incidents involving computer misuse and malware against businesses have increased significantly in recent years.

Indeed, for a while now cybercrime offences, including online fraud, are now the UK’s most common forms of criminal activity, after they were included in official policing figures for the first time in 2015.

The latest ONS data shows that there were 4.7 million incidents of fraud and computer misuse in the 12 months to September 2017. Meanwhile other reports have estimated that 17m Britons were targeted by phishing, ransomware, online fraud and hacking in 2017, and Norton has previously estimated that £130bn was stolen from consumers last year.

“Cybercrime is on the rise and will continue to pose a serious threat to UK businesses, consumers and critical national infrastructure,” said the report. “This in turn, places huge pressure on our Police forces to ensure that officers, staff, new recruits and trainees are fully prepared to handle increasingly complex investigations.”

Despite this, it seems that police forces are not spending huge amounts in training their staff in cyber issues.

The PS report found that the highest cyber training spender was North Wales Police which spent more than £375,000 in the past three years.

West Mercia and Warwickshire Police submitted a joint response which saw them reach second place with a total spend of £125,633.

Lincolnshire was third with £119,834, followed by West Midlands Police, Police Scotland, and British Transport Police.

The Port of Dover spend absolutely nothing on cyber training, as did the police force (Gloucestershire Police) which has the UK’s electronic spy agency (GCHQ in Cheltenham), located in its area.

Gloucestershire Police has just 11 cybercrime training policemen.

Needed skills

The PS report made a number of recommendations going forward.

First; it advised the creation of a national police cyber strategy that would allow security specialist companies to “provide an agreed standard of training for all officers and staff across the country.”

Secondly, the report recommended that there should be increased recruitment of officers with existing cyber skills, and thirdly that police forces should share key security training services with each other.

In 2015 a report from industry watchdog techUK urged the UK’s police forces to build and develop closer working relationships with the country’s technology industry in order to tackle the ever-growing threat of cybercrime.

In 2014 the City of London police teamed up with Kaspersky Lab, in an effort to help educate both the police, and businesses around the UK, on dealing with the growing menace of cybercrime.

In 2014 a report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) warned that the majority of police forces across the UK do not have a digital crimes unit capable of dealing with online events.

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