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Here you can read about a range of policing topics from a range of voices from the Police Federation of England and Wales, including principal officers, regional representatives and PFEW HQ staff.

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Catching up with cybercrime

Friday, 22 April 2016

by Simon Kempton, PFEW lead for cybercrime 

According to yesterday’s quarterly crime stats, cybercrime is on a continual rise. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau found that the UK public lost more than £268 million to the top ten internet-enabled frauds reported between September 2014 and August 2015. These figures are only a partial picture as many cases of fraud never come to the attention of the police. A Get Safe Online survey found almost one in five people don’t bother reporting a cybercrime.

The police are playing catch up with online crime as an organisation. There are pockets of expertise and good practice, but the workforce, mirroring society in general, is not as well prepared for the online threat as it ought to be. The threat isn't just from well-organised and funded gangs or nation states, but increasingly lower level criminals are starting to use the internet as a tool of their criminality in much the same way as a burglar uses a crowbar. This means that practically every officer has to deal with cybercrime on a daily basis. 

If we want to provide the public with the best possible service and protection, then our training should reflect the fast-growing issue of cybercrime. Currently, much of the training that is being done is National Centre for Applied Learning Technologies (NCALT) computer-based learning. There are well known issues with distance e-learning: for example, many officers only find the time to do the packages on a night shift as they don’t have time allocated for learning by their force. But more fundamentally, we are asking officers who often have restricted knowledge or experience of IT systems to use an IT-based training package to learn about IT-based criminality. 

However, it’s a really positive step forward that the College of Policing (CoP) have reviewed their cybercrime training package to make it more accessible to frontline officers, rather than just specialist staff. Their refreshed programme has now been embedded into the Initial Police Learning and Development Plan (IPLDP) and Initial Crime Investigators Development Programme (ICIDP). The course is also included in the Police Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy (PEEL) assessments, so forces are required to give staff time to access it.

The CoP’s new-look Level 1 Cyber Awareness and Level 2 Cybercrime for Investigators launched in September 2015. Originally a five-day, classroom based specialist course, it can now be accessed remotely by more frontline personnel, there is no exam at the end and officers have ongoing access to the learning materials so that they can refer back to them whenever they need to. To date, around 5,500 officers have taken the course – hopefully this number will rise fairly quickly now that the training is required by IPLDP, ICIDP and PEEL assessments.

The Police Federation is going to be working with the CoP to help develop the training that officers need and are asking for. It's the Federation's job to make sure that our voice is heard in that conversation. We need to help ensure our members have the tools necessary to do their job to the very best of their ability.

For advice on how to protect yourself online, visit Get Safe Online.

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