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Leeds academics join police in cyber project


Cybercrime and Security Innovation Centre receives £640,000 for 18-month project to identify knowledge gaps in digital policing

Digital crime specialists at Leeds Beckett University have begun to work with West Yorkshire Police on a project aimed at identifying gaps in digital investigations.

The university's newly established Cybercrime and Security Innovation Centre (CSI Centre) is taking on the 18-month project with £640,000 from the Police Knowledge Fund, which supports closer working between police and academia. It will report directly to the Home Office on its findings.

It follows a claim made early in the year by Home Secretary Theresa May that police services have to do more to ensure their officers can carry out basic digital investigations.

The project involves academics from Leeds Beckett having access to the workings of West Yorkshire Police in dealing with cyber crime. Its objective is to identify the knowledge gaps in digital investigations and feed into the modernisation of police forces.

Detective Inspector Vanessa Smith, the police lead in the partnership, said: “The 18 month project will see us work and collaborate to identify the knowledge gaps in digital policing. We will then work together to tackle these, sharing our learning with the Home Office.

“At the heart of the project is our desire to protect those who are vulnerable to becoming victims of crime and ensuring that they are safe online – not only the residents of West Yorkshire, but the whole UK population.”

Design challenge

Dr Z Cliffe Schreuders, senior lecturer in computer security at Leeds Beckett and academic lead on the project, said: “Our role is to work with West Yorkshire Police, helping to identify areas where they are strong and where they can be improved. We have collaborated with all levels of West Yorkshire Police in the past six months to identify potential areas for improvement, and the challenge now is to design and evaluate alternative solutions to bring about improvements.

“A key part of this will be in identifying research projects the police can undertake in collaboration with us, to help improve the way they deal with cyber enabled crime.”

The CSI Centre has also received £80,000 from the Higher Education to support a project it is running with the University of Birmingham on training 'ethical hackers'. They are creating a digital environment for them to test their hacking skills in a randomly generated set of scenarios, equipping them to identify vulnerabilities in system.

Figures on crime in England and Wales, published by the Office for National Statistics in June of last year, suggested that more the 8% of the population are the victims of cyber crime every year. Leeds Beckett said it is likely that the true figure is much higher.

Photo: iStockphoto/Henrik Jonsson

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