Criminals beating police on tech ‘since the CB radio’

The police are consistently playing catch-up to cybercriminals, and it will take hard work and money to even keep up with them in the next ten years.

This was one of the conclusions of a meeting of high-level police figures and criminal academics organised by Unisys.

Forbes Gallagher, client account executive for Unisys and a police officer for much of his career, said that the last time the police was ahead of the criminal community on technology was when the CB (Citizen Band) radio was introduced.

He said: "Up to that point, the police service were ahead. We had private communications with each other.

"Then criminals gained the ability to communicate with each other. From that point you had mobile phones all that capability to guide and control criminal gangs."

Gallagher, who was also involved in investigating the police handling of the Soham murders, said that in the next ten years the challenge for the police was about sharing information.

He said: "We've got the first stages of that. We have the embryo of the police national database that's kicked off. That's a very interesting concept and we'll see how that goes."

He also referred to the Information Systems Improvement Strategy (ISIS) programme, that's aimed at transforming police communications by moving towards the use of common and capital standards as well as technology.

"It's fundamentally difficult to argue against a sensible approach where everybody is using the same stuff and working to common standards," he said.

However, he warned that ISIS was coming at a time that the UK economy has crumbled, and that he believed the government didn't have the money to pump investment into police IT systems.

John Vine, independent watchdog of the UK Border Agency, said that it was very important that we see saw cross-border cooperation between different police bodies, especially when it came to sharing intelligence.

Vine said: "The myriad of IT systems in the police doesn't help."