Cyber crime is a growing problem for police forces across the country, and Wiltshire is no exception.
Shocking figures show that an estimated 80 per cent of cyber crime could be prevented through some very simple online safety and general personal security precautions. That is why we have been raising awareness of cyber safety and educating people on how best to protect themselves. I fully appreciate the devastating emotional and sometimes financial consequences this type of crime can have on victims, which is why we remain committed to preventing cyber crime and protecting our communities.
As part of this commitment, our cadets, with support from the local Neighbourhood Policing Teams, have been visiting towns across the Force area, offering children, young people and adults a variety of cyber awareness signposting information and leaflets. The message behind the work of the cadets was ‘Be Polite’. All too often we are seeing examples of ‘keyboard warriors’ – people commenting online with vile messages they would never dream of saying to someone’s face. This has to stop. This kind of behaviour places huge demands on our services and is only going to continue to grow. In many cases, incidents on social media could be better dealt with by simply blocking the person involved, or reporting it to Facebook. Calling the police in the first instance may not always be the best solution.
The rise of social media and new technology have been some of the biggest contributory factors to the change in the policing landscape over the past couple of years and there is no doubting that it brings with it some very difficult challenges, especially at a time when our resources are under increased pressure and demand.
We have a strategy in place to deal with the rise in demand and are investing in training for staff to ensure robust cyber crime investigations are carried out where appropriate. I also cannot stress enough the importance of a joined up approach to this issue and, as a result, we are focusing on effective partnership working to ensure staff are educated and prepared to deal successfully with the growing demands of the digital age.
However, it is not just our officers and staff that need to understand the dangers of new technology.
In Wiltshire, figures show that those people most likely to be affected by cyber crime are those aged 11 to 30, while those aged 40 to 49 are most likely to be victims of online fraud, whether it be cyber enabled or cyber dependant. These figures reinforce the importance of educating our young people of the dangers they face online to ensure they are protected. We cannot do it alone – we need your help to change the attitudes of our youngsters. I have previously mentioned my concerns about the criminalisation of those involved in one particular form of cyber crime – sexting, and whether or not this is the appropriate course of action – maybe the best prevention may actually be education rather than a criminal record. We will continue to work with our local schools to ensure children are fully aware of the consequences.
– February 9th marks Safer Internet Day and we’ll be supporting the campaign on social media with the hashtag #shareaheart, promoting respect and kindness online.