Police to increase number of officers to combat cyber crime

The force also plan to establish a centre of excellence for cyber crime as well as adding an additional 50 officers.

Police Scotland has announced plans to increase the number of specially-trained officers to combat cyber crime.

The force said it will also establish a centre of excellence for cyber crimes in a bid to focus on the online sphere, particularly on child sexual abuse, fraud and the sharing of indecent images.

The announcement comes as the force claims online sexual crimes against children have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In June, more child sexual abuse reports were made in one month than any other in history, Police Scotland claim, with 226 crimes recorded – a 21% increase on the same month last year and 34% up on the five-year national average – and 530 between April and June.

National Crime Agency data also shows the number of traditional crimes has decreased by 27% in the past decade.

Deputy chief constable Malcolm Graham said: “The nature of crime is changing and Police Scotland needs to change with it. The online space is becoming a bigger part of the front line of policing every day.

“As well as keeping people safe on the streets, our officers and staff are keeping children safe on their computers and smartphones in every community in Scotland.

“While cyber crimes are under-reported, we know we are stopping vulnerable people from being defrauded and adapting our techniques in response to criminals who are doing the same.”

The centre for excellence will bring together 100 officers and staff already working in cyber criminality and a further 50 staff in the short term with plans for this number to increase.

Mr Graham added: “These officers may not be visible. They may not be patrolling in cars, but the work they do is just as important, and the threats they are dealing with are on the rise.

“The rapid increase in online abuse and exploitation of vulnerable people and children, either for financial gain or for sexual purposes, underlines the need for change.

“The centre will provide the necessary increased support for the increasing cyber inquiries, investigation and prevention work.

“This will allow us to deliver support, training and guidance to local policing officers, giving them the tools to address the number of concerns raised daily.

“The additional officers will expand our existing capacity in cybercrime intelligence, investigations, research and development, and digital forensics.

“We know that the service has to have the ability to respond to current and emerging national and international threats and risks.

“The Cyber Strategy 2020 sets out a clear pathway and underlines our commitment to working with our partners, sharing expertise from all sectors to tackle the threat and harm head on.”

The strategy will be put before the Scottish Police Authority board on Wednesday.

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