CYBER-CRIME experts at two Yorkshire police forces say they must adapt faster to changing demands, as the threat posed by online criminals continues to grow.
Crimes such as hacking, online scams or internet extortion cost victims in North Yorkshire a total of £260,000 in the six months to March, with a total of 118 cyber-crimes logged by the force.
However, North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said this would be the “tip of the iceberg”, adding: “We know victims in North Yorkshire who have lost nearly £260,000 in one fell swoop. For me, that just highlights the gap in knowledge.”
At a public accountability meeting today, Mrs Mulligan questioned senior police about their response to cyber-crime and raised concerns that only 250 officers had undergone a week’s training on the subject through the College of Policing.
Meanwhile, only a third of frontline officers at North Yorkshire Police have completed mandatory basic training on the subject, the meeting was told.
Mrs Mulligan said 97 per cent of crimes had a digital element, adding: “It is absolutely routine day business.”
Senior officers defended the force’s performance, with North Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Amanda Oliver saying Cleveland Police had recently studied the cyber-crime capabilities of all the region’s forces and only North Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Police had reached the required standard.
Superintendent Mark Khan, head of digital services, said the demographics in North Yorkshire meant it was particularly at risk.
He said: “We live in a lovely part of the country so for criminals the expectation is there is affluence in this area, so they will target us.”
He said the force was currently too reactive to new threats and needed to adapt faster to changing demands.
Meanwhile, in South Yorkshire, cyber-crime is expected to grow to such levels that all police recruits will be expected to learn the basics of investigating offences as part of their initial training in future, one of its most senior officers has predicted.
Reports of online crime in the county ballooned by 40 per cent in the year ending in March but police believe many victims are opting not to report crimes or attempted offences.
Assistant Chief Constable Tim Forber, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “We have started training 200 officers on what a mobile phone download looks like and the ability to look at an online crime scene and investigate it, like sticking a piece of tape around a physical crime scene.
“I think we need to create a lead team to investigate the more complicated offences, but we have to look at training probationers to make sure every police officer has the skills to investigate basic cyber-crime and has the ability to download digital material.”