Police set up new Cyber Crime Unit

A new police unit has been set up in Surrey and Sussex to help combat on-line crime.

Cyber crimes include fraud, theft and sexual offending.

The joint Cyber Crime Unit (CCU) is building on findings from a pilot study in Brighton and Hove CID to help shape new processes and initiatives.

Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Cundy, lead for the joint Surrey and Sussex Specialist Crime Command, said:

In the digital world a wide range of cyber crime is taking place: from individuals who have been the victims of financial scams or identity fraud, to organised crime and child exploitation – the true level of this type of crime is under reported.

Work is on-going nationally to fully understand the scale of the cyber crime, but meanwhile in Surrey and Sussex we have already recognised that there is a need to urgently increase the capacity and ability of the two forces to deal with this type of crime, to reduce the risks faced by local people.  People now live more of their lives online and criminality is already adapting to exploit this digital environment.

Cyber crimes themselves are criminal acts committed through the use of computers or other technological devices, where the devices are both the tool for committing the crime and target of the crime.  For example, harvesting of online bank account details using malware, the hacking of a website and hacking of networks to steal sensitive data.

The unit, based at Haywards Heath police station, is partly funded through an increase in the police precept in 2014/15, secured by the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne.  She said:

I know from speaking to members of the public that the true level of cyber crime is under-reported and work is ongoing nationally to assess this risk. That is why I’m currently consulting with residents on whether I should seek a rise in the police precept next year (2015/16) to fund further investment with Surrey in expanding capacity, skills and resources to tackle this threat.

For more information see: Are you prepared to pay more for policing?

To protect yourself online follow these top 5 tips:

  • Use strong, memorable passwords
  • Install anti-virus software on new devices
  • Check privacy settings on social media
  • Shop safely online – always ensuring to check online retail sites are secure
  • Download software and application patches when prompted.

For advice on setting strong passwords, read Erica Buist article in The Guardian.