A CANDIDATE standing for election as a Yorkshire police and crime commissioner yesterday called for a tougher approach on so-called cyber crime, which sees victims attacked and robbed over the internet.
Dr Alan Billings, who is standing as a Labour candidate for the controversial commissioner’s role in South Yorkshire, said law enforcement agencies had so far failed to address the issue adequately.
Dr Billings, a former deputy leader of Sheffield Council who was backed in his bid for the job by former Sheffield Central MP Richard Caborn yesterday, said he would ensure South Yorkshire took the lead.
He added: “Cyber criminals are not going to be tracked and caught by traditionally recruited police officers whose skills and training are suited to neighbourhood policing, vehicle crime or the investigation of physical offences.
“We need specialists who know the cyber world. So, we need to think outside the box. For example, in our area, we have a small number of incredibly talented individuals who might never have thought of joining the police but whose IT skills are exactly what is needed in tracking and evidencing cyber crime.
“The estimated overall cost to the UK economy from cyber crime is £27bn per year, according to the first joint Government and industry report into the extent and cost of cyber crime across the UK.
“The UK is ranked fourth in the world for cyber crime, after the USA, China and Germany. While the government now seems to be responding to cyber fraud against businesses, there is little evidence of a serious response to cyber crime affecting ordinary households and small businesses.
“As a police and crime commissioner in South Yorkshire, I would ensure that we were in the vanguard of responding to this growth in criminality.
“We must make best use of all the national, regional and local government resources, and the skills and knowledge of our local IT companies, ISPs and universities.
Mr Caborn joined Hillsborough and Brightside MP David Blunkett in backing Dr Billings yesterday and said: “I have known and worked with Alan over many years.
“I believe he is the best person for this important post. He has the right qualities of toughness under pressure combined with strong ethical values and an ability to inspire others.
“I have admired Alan’s work since he co-authored the ‘Faith in the City’ report that did so much to highlight the plight of urban priority areas in the 1980s.
“Alan’s values are mine and those of the Labour Party and Labour movement.”
Elections for police and crime commissioners will be held in North, South and West Yorkshire and Humberside in November with the winners taking their posts shortly afterwards.