Dr Alan Billings, one of the candidates for the Labour nomination for Police and Crime Commissioner in South Yorkshire, said today that the police must get ahead of the game in relation to cyber-crime affecting ordinary households and small businesses.
Dr Billings says that, as Police and Crime Commissioner in South Yorkshire, he would be ensuring that South Yorkshire was in the vanguard of taking the issue seriously and in finding innovative responses to the challenge.
Dr Billings said; “Every day, thousands of families and businesses in South Yorkshire are the subject of attempted cyber crime.
“At its very simplest, this takes the form of a phone-call purporting to be from Microsoft or an ISP, claiming that they have identified malware on your computer which needs to be fixed. Of course, the purpose of the call is to take control of your computer either to introduce the caller’s own malware, for which they will charge a fortune to purport to remove, or to steal information to enable other crimes. The very fact that thousands of calls are being made each day simply goes to prove how profitable this crime is.
“Although there is no universally agreed definition of cyber-crime – it can range from computer-related fraud to offences related to child pornography – we do know that it is increasing year by year, and that it is impacting on ordinary families, small and big businesses, and all public bodies.
“The estimated overall cost to the UK economy from cyber crime is £27bn per year, according to the first joint Government and industry report into the extent and cost of cyber crime across the UK. The UK is ranked fourth in the world for cyber-crime, after USA, China and Germany.
“Whilst the government now seems to be responding to cyber-fraud against businesses, with GCHQ being asked to share tactics and technology, there is little evidence of a serious response to cyber-crime affecting ordinary households and small businesses.”
Dr Billings continued: “As a Police and Crime Commissioner in South Yorkshire, I would ensure that we were in the vanguard of responding to this growth in criminality.
“We must make best use of all the national, regional and local government resources, and the skills and knowledge of our local IT companies, ISPs and universities.
“Cyber-criminals are not going to be tracked and caught by traditionally recruited police officers whose skills and training are suited to neighbourhood policing, vehicle crime or the investigation of physical offences. We need specialists who know the cyber-world.
“So, we need to think outside the box. F or example, in our area, we have a small number of incredibly talented individuals who might never have thought of joining the police but whose IT skills are exactly what is needed in tracking and evidencing cyber-crime.
“As Major General Jonathan Shaw (Assistant Chief, Defence Staff, UK) commented last week – after the Serious Organised Crime Agency’s website had to be taken offline after being targeted by hackers – it is precisely this sort of initiative which will be need to be embraced if we want to catch the criminals and stay ahead of them.”Other news from Alan Billings