Cybercrime Prosecutions Fall Again in UK

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The number of cybercrime prosecutions in the UK fell for the second successive year in 2017 as police struggled with increasingly complex cases, according to a leading law firm.

There were just 47 prosecutions under the Computer Misuse Act and other laws last year, down 18% from the 57 in 2016, according to London-based Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP (RPC).

This is despite a growing threat from cyberspace: 43% of businesses and two in 10 charities (19%) experienced a cybersecurity breach or attack in the past 12 months, according to government research from earlier this year.

RPC claimed police simply don’t have the resources necessary to tackle much of what’s going on, especially as many attacks are launched from outside the country and the EU, while others are obfuscated through the use of encryption and proxies.

The law firm urged organizations to put in place “wide ranging precautions” including cyber-insurance to mitigate the threat of financial, reputational and regulatory risk that can result from a serious online attack.

“Police forces are doing their best with the resources they have but the scale of the problem means businesses cannot necessarily rely on the police to really help them when there is a cybercrime,” said RPC partner Richard Breavington.

“There will have to be some radical changes before businesses can start depending on the law enforcement agencies rather than private industry, including insurance, to help them if they have suffered from a cybercrime.”

In 2015, there were 61 recorded prosecutions for cyber-offenses, up by over a third from a figure of 45 in 2014, according to law firm Pinsent Masons.

Earlier this month the government announced a £100m cash injection for the police to help drive digital transformation projects, but most experts agree that law enforcement in the UK still lacks the cyber-skills to make a serious dent in online crime.

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