The hidden world of cyber crime can appear complex and confusing to those without specialist knowledge of the subject, but its unmistakable growing impact on our lives has been succinctly summarised by West Yorkshire Police chief constable Dee Collins; “We are all potential targets”.
Writing in The Yorkshire Post today, Collins puts the matter in simple and understandable terms. “Criminals are still coming into our homes, but today they are just as likely to be doing that through our wi-fi connection as they are through the open window,” she says.
The troubling findings uncovered by this paper as part of a four-month investigation back up her assertions. In parts of the county, reports of internet crimes such as online fraud have more than doubled in the past 12 months, with police warning they face an uphill battle in catching criminals who can be based anywhere in the world.
The true scale of online crime is believed to be far higher than even the official statistics suggest, with the National Crime Agency warning that huge levels of under-reporting mean it struggles to fully understand how criminals are operating online.
Most concerning is the evidence of children as young as nine from Yorkshire being sucked into the dangerous online underworld. On six occasions in the past three years, South Yorkshire Police have dropped investigations after discovering their suspects were under the age of criminal responsibility.
While the picture appears frightening, understanding the nature and scale of the threat we face is vital in responding properly.
In this age of social media accounts containing huge levels of personal detail, the ever-growing reliance on online banking and mobile phones which hold almost every single piece of information about our lives, taking steps to secure our personal data is paramount.
Farming benefits - Post-Brexit vision unveiled
One of the key issues concerning farmers is exactly what system of subsidies will replace the Common Agricultural Policy in 2019.
It’s top of Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s agenda and in his first keynote speech he’s pledged to deliver a ‘green Brexit’, indicating that farmers will be paid for delivering benefits for the countryside rather than simply for the amount of land they own after Britain leaves the EU.
The Government has pledged to maintain levels of funding up to 2022, but Mr Gove, a keen advocate of Brexit, says farmers will be rewarded as long as they do their bit to protect the environment.
It is a positive step and comes as the CLA, which represents over 30,000 landowners, farmers and rural businesses across England and Wales, outlined its own plans to reform the existing system of farm subsidies post-Brexit.
The CLA wants payments to farmers to continue but says the long-term aim should be to create an agricultural policy that allows farmers to run profitable and sustainable businesses without being reliant on subsidies.
This will be not be an easy task but such ambition ought to be applauded. So, too, should the Environment Secretary who appears to have grasped the importance of the rural economy.
Mr Gove’s appointment was met with understandable reservations following his surprise appointment last month, given his apparent lack of experience when it comes to rural affairs. Which is why it’s pleasing to see both him and the CLA singing from the same hymn sheet.
Yorkshire values - Driving a successful business
It is a mark of the man that when Jack Tordoff took to the stage at The Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards last year, the room full of top business people rose in unison to honour him.
That night the Bradford-born business leader was the recipient of our special award in recognition for his lifetime commitment to developing a motor retailing group which today turns over more than £1bn.
Now his business has gained further recognition, this time winning the title of ‘Best Digital Customer Experience’ at the Auto Trader Click Awards.
His son, John, who now runs the business his father started, is taking JCT600 into increasingly pioneering new areas as manifested by this award.
It’s a family firm built around the old fashioned virtue of graft combined with sound business sense, that Mr Tordoff senior so admires. The popular octogenarian leads by example and as such is the living embodiment of true Yorkshire endeavour.