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England and Wales Police Get Dedicated Cybercrime Units

Every England and Wales police force now has a dedicated cybercrime unit, thanks to a multimillion-pound government investment, it was revealed yesterday.

The announcement was made by the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) National Cybercrime Programme, and claimed that forces were able to access £7m in funds to fill the units with specialist officers and equipment.

Further investment by the Home Office and the National Cyber Security Programme is expected to continue into 2019/20 and 20/21.

The new units will be coordinated by the country’s Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs) to prevent duplication and offer support via National Cybercrime Units (NCCUs). The idea is that the new local units will form the last piece in the policing puzzle, completing a “Team Cyber UK” network of local, regional, national and international cybercrime law enforcement.

“In the past 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,” explained chief constable Peter Goodman, the NPCC lead for cybercrime.

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

Before the initiative, less than a third (31%) of forces apparently had a dedicated cybercrime unit.

However, there will still be concerns over skills gaps among officers, reflecting a wider trend across the cybersecurity industry.

Back in 2016, then-home secretary Theresa May announced plans to bring in volunteers to help regular officers on cybercrime cases. The following year a thinktank called for the creation of a digital academy to train specialist cyber-police officers. However, neither plan seems to have got beyond the ideas stage.

“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,” argued Eset cybersecurity specialist, Jake Moore.

“An injection of money couldn’t come at a better time, as cyber offences become harder to detect and deter. 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.”

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