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UK Police Lack Skills and Resources to Fight Cybercrime – Report

Most UK police forces have neither the skills nor resources to adequately combat the growing menace of cybercrime, according to a new report calling for a radical rethink about the way officers are recruited.

A survey of 185 intelligence analysts in 48 different police bodies, conducted by consultancy PA Consulting, found less than a third of staff have the skills or technology to fight online criminals, according to The Independent.

It said police bodies were too focused on protecting their own fiefdoms rather than co-operating with each other to share intelligence and techniques to counter an anonymous, trans-regional enemy.

More of the £650m allocated by the government to a National Cyber Security Program should be spent on policing, because law enforcers are “nowhere near equipped” to deal with the threat, report author Nick Newman told the paper.

A quarter of respondents to the survey were apparently dismayed that a “snooper’s charter” bill was abandoned earlier this year by the coalition as they believe it could have helped strengthen police efforts to fight cybercrime.

Despite a £2.7m project announced in February this year by the College of Policing to train 2,000 detectives with cyber skills, the report calls for a new approach to recruitment so that law enforcement authorities can attract the brightest and best talent.

Serena Gonsalves-Fersch, head of KPMG’s Cyber Security Academy, argued that the police need to approach cybercrime as they would any other criminal activity.

“They need to not only better understand the key cybercrime triggers but also how to support victims of cybercrimes,” she said.

“Building up knowledge sharing networks with the private sector to be better plugged into the activities of cyber-criminals will ensure they are a step ahead.”

A KPMG study last month found that the majority (57%) of UK organizations are finding it difficult to retain highly skilled information security specialists.   

But Gonsalves-Fersch argued that having a handful of very skilled experts alone is not enough to solve the problem of skills shortages.

“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,” she added.

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