The NPCC National Cyber Crime Programme has announced that every police force in England and Wales now has a dedicated Cyber Crime Unit in place following a multi-million-pound investment from the government.
The announcement was made at a launch event held by Chief Constable Peter Goodman in his role as National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) lead for Cyber Crime.
The event was hosted by the new West Midlands Cyber Crime Unit which has been in place since November last year.
Chief Constable Goodman heard from members of the team about the work they are now able to do within force, how they link with the regional network and what it means to local victims – both individuals and businesses.
Chief Constable Goodman said: “I am absolutely delighted to announce this significant step forward in improving the overall response to cybercrime in England and Wales.
“In the last six years we have introduced a robust national and regional network of dedicated Cyber Crime Units from the National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) within the NCA, to the Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs) but we were still lacking a local response as part of the Team Cyber UK network.
“The Force Cyber Crime Units fill this gap and will deliver a force level capability to investigate and pursue offenders, help businesses and victims protect themselves from attack and work with partners to prevent vulnerable individuals from committing cyber crime. This is a great start and lays down a solid foundation for each force to build on.”
Forces were able to access £7 million worth of funding this year to build the Cyber Crime Units – including recruiting specialist officers and staff to the units and investing in technology, equipment and training. Investment in the units by the Home Office will continue through 19/20 and 20/21.
Security and Economic Crime Minister Ben Wallace said: “While cybercriminals hide behind their screens, their actions have a huge impact on businesses and individuals.
“Being the victim of a hack can be frightening, embarrassing and costly.
“The new specialist cybercrime teams are a vital tool when it comes to preventing this type of crime, pursuing the perpetrators and protecting victims.
“Crime is changing and so must we. These cyber units, supported by Home Office funding, are a clear symbol of that shift.”
Prior to the roll out of the Force Units, only 31% of forces had a dedicated cyber capability. Now all forces will have specialist officers and staff in place to investigate cybercrime and ensure victims receive a consistent response and receive contact and prevention advice from police following a report.
The new teams will be coordinated and supported by the ROCUs to ensure investigations are undertaken at the right level, prevent duplication of effort and are effectively managed across the country. They are able to call on the extra support and assistance of the NCCU, forming part of the Team Cyber UK approach to having a robust local, regional, national and international policing network able to respond at all levels of law enforcement to all levels of cyber criminality.
The new units support the updated Serious and Organised Crime Strategy launched in November 2018, which helps build businesses’ and individuals’ resilience against cybercrime and ensures law enforcement agencies have the capabilities they need to tackle it.
The Cyber Crime Units are also complemented by the five-year National Cyber Security Strategy, launched in 2016 and supported by £1.9 billion of investment. This brings together the best from government and industry to develop new ways to strengthen defences, deter criminals and develop capabilities to respond to cyber criminality.
As part of the wider TeamCyber UK network there is also Cyber Aware, a cross-government awareness and behaviour change campaign, offering advice on staying secure.