Police Must ‘Learn How To Support Cybercrime Victims’

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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‘Sluggish’ police are trying to catch today’s criminals with yesterday’s tactics, according to critics

Professional services firm KPMG has hit out at UK police forces, suggesting they lack an understanding of cybercrime triggers and are unable to offer support to victims of online crime.

On November 27, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) published a 243-page audit , which stated that law enforcement agencies are failing to get to grips with cyber crime. The watchdog also highlighted concerns over the “erosion” of basic investigative skills.

Fallen behind the curve

Chief Inspector of Consabulary, Tom Winsor, said “sluggish” police had fallen behind the curve of rapidly changing criminality because law enforcement agancies are not recruiting the right type of candidates.

Tom WinsorHe commented: “The police in too many respects are policing many crimes of today with the methods of yesterday. In the past the police recruited 18-year-old men to deal with burglaries and with street violence.

“The kind of police officer needed today is much more tech-savvy and more sympathetic, with a wider range of skills – and yet today we are seeing the police predominantly policing yesterday’s crimes with yesterday’s methods and kit.”

Now, the head of KPMG’s Cyber Security Academy has joined the police’s long line of critics, suggesting that the same efforts and approach to tackling so-called ‘traditional criminal activity’ should be adopted to defeat cyber criminals.

Serena Gonsalves-Fersch said: “The approach by Britain’s law enforcement agencies to cybercrime should be the same as any other criminal activity. They need to not only better understand the key cybercrime triggers but also how to support victims of cybercrimes. Building up a knowledge sharing networks with the private sector to be better plugged into the activities of cyber criminals will ensure they are a step ahead.

“Recent research from KPMG shows that 57 percent of UK companies believe it is getting more and more difficult to recruit and retain high quality staff in the cyber space and 52 percent said there is aggressive headhunting in this area. So it comes as no surprise that the law enforcement agencies – who are less able to provide premium salaries, benefits and ‘golden handshakes’ – are facing an uphill struggle to get the best people on board.

“However, having a handful of highly paid specialists will only go so far. Both private and public sector organisations need to focus on developing the skills of their existing workforce and on integrating cyber training into their overall training and development policies.”

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