Most UK Police Forces ‘Lack Cyber Capability’

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Lack of cyber policing skills in the UK is a cause for concern

The majority of police forces across the UK do not have a digital crimes unit capable of dealing with online events, according to a report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

Only three forces – Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and West Midlands – had developed “comprehensive cyber crime strategies or plans” and just 15 had considered digital threats in their strategic threat and risk assessment (STRAs).

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“Senior leaders across police forces were unsure of what constituted a large-scale cyber incident,” the report read. “We found that, where they existed, STRAs and plans were focused only on investigating cyber crime; they were silent about preventing it and protecting people from the harm it causes.

“We found that most ROCUs [regional organised crime unit] had not yet developed the necessary cyber capability to assist police forces. We also found that police forces’ capacity and contribution was limited to the deployment of a small number of specialist investigators.”

The report also discovered most police forces are not adequately recording cyber crime incidents, meaning they do not have enough information to tackle online illicit activity.

As cyber crime often requires capability across regions, the weaknesses across UK police forces could hamper national efforts to take down online criminals.

Police forces were not trying to improve either, according to the report. Despite there being eight e-learning packages police could use to develop investigative skills, average take-up across 37 forces was less than two percent of staff.

“Take-up of this training was disappointingly poor, with only a few forces demonstrating a real commitment to improve the skills of their staff to tackle cyber crime.”

Following a number of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests in 2012, TechWeekEurope uncovered patchy policing efforts to deal with the online threat. The HMIC report indicates improvements have not been forthcoming since then.

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