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Fighting cyber crime ‘needs change in police culture’


Saying ‘I don’t do technology’ is not acceptable, says detective chief inspector of West Midlands Police

A belief that dealing with cyber crime is for “geeks and nerds” is providing a cultural barrier to a successful response, according to a senior officer at one of England’s largest police forces.

Iain Donnelly, detective chief inspector and senior intelligence manager at West Midlands Police, told Capita’s Cyber Crime Conference that some officers in all forces still do not see cyber crime as a serious issue, and that this has to be changed.

“Saying that ‘I just don’t do technology’ is not acceptable,” he said. “It’s like saying you ‘don’t do criminal law’.”

Donnelly said that it is vital for police and crime commissioners (PCCs) to ‘get’ the importance of cyber crime, and that others including chief constables, command teams, finance and procurement teams also have to buy into its significance.

“If we’re trying to do things differently and acquire new capabilities and services, and your finance or procurement teams don’t ‘get it’, then you will run into difficulties,” he said.

Donnelly said that there is a culture in which police superintendents are notified of cyber crime requirements for vulnerabilities and that “their eyes would start to drift”. To overcome this it is imperative that senior leaders, and mid-to-late service police staff should all briefed on cyber crime’s importance.

Various reports suggest that cyber crime costs the UK more than £1 billion every day, and Donnelly is keen to ensure that it is thought of as a priority by police forces, and that it is a core part of their strategies.

He said that in years gone by, forces were driven concentrate on specific crimes because of targets, milestones and performance indicators.

“The culture around performance has changed significantly, we have a much lighter touch than maybe was the case 10 years ago, but inevitably some of this will still influence behaviour,” he said.

Also speaking at the conference, Chris Gearny, national coordinator for economic crime and commander at the City of London Police, lamented the fact that police forces were not taking into account cyber crime in their areas when it came to reporting crime figures.

Image by Blue Coat Photos, CC BY-SA 2.0 through flickr

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