There has been an increase in the volume of cybercrime incidents reported to English police of 14% over the past two financial years, according to a new report.
Think tank Parliament Street filed Freedom of Information (FOI) requests with the country’s police forces, asking for a breakdown of Computer Misuse Act crimes which involve hacking, smart devices and/or connected devices.
Although it received back a full set of answers from just 14 out of a possible 39 forces, the findings could be viewed as illustrative of broader trends.
The total number of cybercrimes over the two-year period was 2547, rising from 1193 in 2016/17 to 1354 in 2017/18.
Of those appraised, Cleveland Police reported the most cases in 2017/18 with 356, followed by West Midlands (329) and Nottinghamshire Police (246).
The latter two also reported the biggest increases from the previous year, of 19% and 21% respectively.
However, interestingly, London’s Metropolitan Police reported a drop in cybercrime cases, from just 77 in 2016/17 to 49 in 2017/18.
Anecdotally, unauthorized access of email and social media accounts to obtain and distribute personal photos figured strongly in cases. On the corporate side, the report also highlights ransomware as a common factor in cases.
“It’s clear that the tidal wave of cybercrime is draining the resources of police forces as well as businesses. Tackling this problem requires a concerted effort to recruit staff equipped with the latest cyber skills as well as extending education and training opportunities to existing employees,” argued Sheila Flavell, chair of the Institute of Coding.
“As part of this effort, it’s vital that industry works more closely with academic institutions, to develop specialist flexible courses, so that skills within workforces increase dramatically.”
The report itself calls for mandatory cyber training for all new police recruits in line with nationally recognized standards; more help from tech and social media companies to train officers; and an increase in STEM-qualified officers.
“As well as working closely with universities and training colleges, industry organizations should also offer placement years and consultancy to ensure that police forces are fully equipped to deal with this threat,” it advised.
The tech sector is stepping up to a certain extent: last week Cisco announced it would be providing free access to its Cisco Networking Academy to help train 120,000 officers.