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Police need procurement changes to fight cyber crime


Chief inspector tells conference that forces need more digital tools than ever before – and the price is not cheap

Police forces need to overcome many of the procurement obstacles they face if they are to help victims of cybercrime, according to Iain Donnelly, detective chief inspector and senior intelligence manager of West Midlands Police.

Speaking at Capita’s Cyber Crime Conference, Donnelly said that forces now need more types of digital tools than ever before, including social networking investigation tools, data analytics software, cloud storage, device examination software and data retrieval software – all of which complement each other.

“You can’t do a digital investigation with one of the tools in the toolbox. You need all of them in order to carry out an effective investigation,” he said.

But Donnelly added that he believes many of the new technical tools on the market are not cheap, and the continual changes in technology are making their procurement even more difficult.

Stalking and bombardment

“Any (decision maker within the police) who has a LinkedIn profile will get stalked and bombarded with emails and approaches from technology companies wanting to sell you something,” he said. “Some of that stuff is probably very good, but some of it is not, and understanding which is which can be quite difficult.”

Procurement has never been an easy task, particularly within the public sector, and the legal risk of taking a short cut means that public sector organisations have to deal with the obstacles head on. But this encourages practitioners to become frustrated, according to Donnelly, and leads to them “cosying up with technology firms” and subsequently getting free trials for tools which they cannot afford in the long run.

“This sounds great, but as soon as the department has to give them back they become frustrated so it’s not a solution,” he explained.

Donnelly emphasised the stark difference between technology and other areas of policing when it came to procurement.

“If you’re trying to trade in your fleet of police cars to newer, bigger and shinier cars and there are blockages along the way of being able to do that, then cops may not be able to get somewhere as quickly or comfortably but will still be able to get to a call roughly within the target time and deliver a service to the public,” he said.

“But if we can’t procure tools we need in this area, then it’s not that we’ll turn up later or deliver a poor service – we won’t deliver a service at all, so getting over those procurement obstacles is very important,” he added.

Image from iStock

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