Each Police Force Gets Dedicated Cybercrime Unit

The government has made a multi-million-pound investment to ensure that every police force in England and Wales now has its own dedicated cybercrime unit.

The announcement was made by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), as part of its National Cybercrime Programme event in the Midlands this week.

Tackling cybercrime has long been on the police’s radar. Indeed, last month the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) confirmed that it had suffered a ransomware attack.

Dedicated cybercrime units

The cybercrime lead for the NPCC, Chief Constable Peter Goodman, confirmed that now every police force in England and Wales has a dedicated cybercrime unit in place.

It seems that police forces were able to access £7m worth of government funding this year to build their cybercrime units. This money was used to recruit specialist officers and staff to the units and investing in technology, equipment and training.

Investment from the Home Office and the National Cyber Security Programme will continue through 2019/20 and 20/21.

“I am absolutely delighted to announce this significant step forward in improving the overall response to cybercrime in England and Wales,” said Chief Constable Goodman.

“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,” he added.

“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,” said Chief Constable Goodman.

“These units will improve our response to cybercrime working closely with national and regional units,” he added. “This is a great start and lays down a solid foundation for each force to build on.”

Before this government investment, it seems that only 31 percent of UK forces had a dedicated cyber capability. Now all forces will have specialist officers and staff in place.

“While cyber criminals hide behind their screens, their actions have a huge impact on businesses and individuals,” said Security and Economic Crime Minister Ben Wallace. “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,” Wallace added. “Crime is changing and so must we. These cyber units, supported by Home Office funding, are a clear symbol of that shift.”

These new cybercrime teams will able to call on the extra support and assistance of the National Cybercrime Units (NCCU).

Back in 2015, industry watchdog techUK had urged the technology industry and police to work closer together to tackle cybercrime.

Tidal wave

The move to ensure that each local police force has its own cybercrime officiers has been welcome by security experts.

“Police forces around the UK have struggled when it comes to investigating the tidal wave of cyber offences reported to Action Fraud since it formed,” explained Jake Moore, cyber security specialist at ESET.

“An injection of money couldn’t come at a better time, as cyber offences become harder to detect and deter,” said Moore. “I imagine much of this money will be put into offering prevention advice around the country to people most at risk, as to small and medium businesses with livelihoods on the line, prevention is better than cure.”

“We mustn’t become complacent when it comes to cybercrime,” Moore insisted. “We need to stay vigilant and do our best not to become another statistic.

“Although this money is predicted to detect more offences than present, it will remain difficult to retrieve much of any money stolen due to so much ending in crypto currencies which remains largely untraceable,” he concluded.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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