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Your Council Tax Working to Keep You Safe

Cumbria Constabulary’s Cyber and Digital Crime Unit (CDCU) have made waves in their crime fighting progress, eight months on from their launch. The CDCU have investigated 37 cases of cyber-crime, 17 of which are currently live, and provided advice to 67 victims to improve their online safety.

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, funds the Cyber Crime Unit as one of his main policing priorities. The funding comes from the rise in council tax introduced in 2019/20.

The CDCU aim to identify and investigate criminals using online means to target their victims and bring offenders to justice, often working with international police forces to do so. The cases the team are involved can be complex with long investigations due to offenders often living and committing their crimes from other parts of the UK or internationally. This results in the Constabulary liaising with multiple police organisations worldwide to bring the investigation to a conclusion.

One of the 37 cases the CDCU have worked on involved fraud through the use of social media hacking. The team obtained a criminal who had hacked in to victims social media accounts and private messaged the victims friends asking for money to help pay bills. These friends then sent money on to a bank account linked to the offender, who then split the ill-gotten gains among several other bank accounts.

Cyber-crime prevention is a key priority of the unit, including educating the public from becoming victims. The CDCU have linked in with multiple schools and businesses across Cumbria to provide advice and knowledge on up to date cyber security systems to protect themselves as well as advice on what to do in the event of a cyber attack.

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “Raising council tax is always a hard decision to make. However, when I see that the extra money gained has given the force extra resources to catch criminals behind closed doors I know that it is the right decision.

“Cyber-crime is constantly gaining momentum with criminals no longer having to leave the comfort of their homes to target victims.

“This means that everyone with any online presence could be a target so it’s essential that we all learn to protect ourselves and become tech-savvy.

“Cyber-crime can range from hacking and fraud to blackmail, stalking and sexual crimes and can often carry over to international police forces – that’s why having a cyber-crime unit is so essential.

“We have all had those emails in our inbox that we look twice at – if it looks like a scam email it probably is a scam. To avoid this, please follow the advice of the police – never use the same password for two logins, make sure your passwords are strong and always delete suspicious emails without opening them.

“I would urge everyone to be more wary of emails, websites and any other suspicious activities online and report anything out of the ordinary to 101. If you do get caught out, the police can provide advice on how to protect the evidence and how to protect yourself online more carefully.

“The cyber-crime team are doing a fantastic job and they will continue to do so.”   

Detective Inspector Ian Harwood, who leads the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit, said “I am extremely proud of how far the team have developed. Each team member has shown a high level of dedication and commitment to their own professional development, which often is in addition to the high demand from his or her day-to-day operational policing responsibilities.

Every member of the cyber crime team has completed and passed an industry standard foundation training in computing and networking and are now working towards other qualifications in investigations and specialisms such as cryptocurrency.

I am also proud to announce that two of our Detectives have become affiliated members of the Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec) following extensive study and portfolio work, much of which was competed in their own time.

Investment in training and equipment is ongoing to ensure we are in the best position to deal with cyber crime and to continue working with the community and businesses to prevent it occurring in the first place.

As an example of ongoing work to engage with the community, our Cyber Security Apprentice is leading on an initiative to roll out a national cyber competition for young people in Cumbria, the Matrix Challenge.

Detective Inspector Harwood urges everyone to review their online security be it personal or for business. A good resource is the National Cyber Security Centre’s website, which can be found at www.ncsc.gov.uk.

 

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