New £250,000 Cyber Crime Unit launches ahead of Get Safe On Line Week (16 Oct 2015)

A specialist new team has come 'on line' this autumn to take the fight to cyber criminals in West Yorkshire.

Specialist cyber skilled staff have been recruited to provide West Yorkshire Police with cutting edge skills in combating cyber-crime, and in using the latest techniques to help enhance traditional investigations.

The unit has been funded by a £250,000 investment by West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns Williamson and will operate until 2017 to help enhance work already ongoing in the force to investigate cyber (technology enabled) offences.

It will help plug any specialist knowledge gaps in the force, assist in and progress some complex cyber investigations, and also help officers investigate more traditional crime types using the latest techniques and technology.

The team's launch co-insides with this year's 'Get Safe On Line' Week which will nationally run between October 19 and 21st to try and encourage residents to boost their cyber security.

West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson said "Cyber crime is a growing and fast emerging threat of increasing concern for West Yorkshire residents and people throughout the UK.

"It is an issue I take very seriously and it is one of the main areas of focus and that's why I have invested this money to help West Yorkshire Police tackle it after discussions with the Chief Officer Team.

"I would urge anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of cyber crime to come forward and report it to the police on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040."

Detective Superintendent Mark Ridley of West Yorkshire Police, who will have overall responsibility for the unit, said: "The launch of this new team is an exciting advance for West Yorkshire Police and will significantly bolster our ability to investigate emerging cybercrime trends.

"These news officers have been purposely drawn from academia to ensure we have access to the best minds we can find who are experts in their fields and can bring their skills to bear to aid officers across the force in carrying out criminal investigations."

Underpinning the new unit's work will be a wider drive within the force to take a strategic viewpoint on cybercrime and embed cybercrime investigation strands into every day policing.

Police in districts and in the Economic Crime Unit are already increasingly seeing cyber type crimes become part of daily business and making increasing use of social media, email and digital communications in all manner of investigations.

The force is also supported by a Yorkshire regional Cyber Crime Unit which, in its first 12 months of operation, disrupted over 500 web servers controlled by organised crime groups and brought to justice criminals who committed £62-million worth of attacks on regional companies.

Vanessa _smith -_cybercrimeDetective Inspector Vanessa Smith (pictured), of the new Cyber Crime unit, said the force was keen to support Get Safe On Line week which echoed many of the messages and warnings their team wanted to convey.

A key part of the 'Its Personal' campaign encourages people to think about date they may make freely available on line, such as birthdays and address, which could be used by fraudsters to target scams against them.

She said: "We are supporting Get Safe On Line Week at West Yorkshire Police and really do want to encourage people to be more aware of how to reduce their vulnerability to online criminals. "Simple things such as regularly changing passwords and then not using passwords with personal details such as birthdays in or number chains such as '1234' can make a big difference."

The officer also encouraged parents to keep tabs on who their children were interacting with on social media and to monitor their web access.

"At the end of the day, if a stranger knocked on your door would you direct them up to your child's bedroom and leave them unsupervised. If you take no interest whatsoever in your son or daughter's use of social media it is essentially the same thing," she said.

Looking to the future, she said West Yorkshire Police were working with national experts to examine ways to boost the cyber security of individuals, business and public sector organisations and was working with an independent advisory group featuring charities and national experts.

DI Smith said: "Cyber related crime is a rapidly expanding area and by working with our partners in in academia and in the private sector, we aim to become a leading force in this complex and fast changing field."

Details about how to protect yourself from cybercrime can be found on a specialist webpage.  It contains a number of video safety tips and will e regularly updated.

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019