Police ‘lack skills to tackle cybercrime’

Police lamp

Police expect the time they spend on cybercrime to triple over the next three years, but fear they lack the skills to defeat hackers, according to a survey.

Just 30 per cent of expert police analysts are confident of their ability to identify and tackle cyber threats, found the study of 185 police analysts from 48 UK police forces.

One-third of respondents admitted they have been unable to share operational information due to IT deficiencies, and three-quarters of analysts spent just 10 per cent of their time on cybercrime analysis, according to the Police National Analysis Working Group (NAWG), which carried out the research with PA Consulting Group.

Nick Newman, police and cyber security expert at PA Consulting, said: "Government investment is biased towards cyber security measures to prevent attacks which compromise or damage the critical national infrastructure.

"Far less attention has been paid to helping the police protect the victims of cybercrimes, from bank fraud to online child sexual exploitation, or to pursuing those who commit these crimes.

"It is clear from our survey that the police needs to transform its training, tools and ways of working for a new digital landscape if it's to combat the increasingly sophisticated threats posed by a new wave of online criminality."

However, while the study acknowledged the Government's aims in addressing cybercrime through initiatives like the National Cyber Security Programme, it claimed police face confusion over a wider variety of cyber threats and how to tackle them.

"There is still very little data available to quantify the scale and range of new threats, or the pace of change," the report warned, adding that the nature of threats would vary according to location.

A total 57 per cent of respondents believe cybercrime will increase significantly over the next three years, but just 15 per cent felt it was being measured accurately by their force.

Cyber fraud cost the UK 670 million between August 2013 to August 2014, according to recent figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.