Traditional crime such as burglary and robbery may have declined year on year, but Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball says a new frontier of cyber crime needs to be tackled.
And to get an idea of the true scale of the problem Mr Ball is calling for banks, financial institutions and large retailers to start reporting all the internet fraud they deal with.
He said: “We are two and a half times more likely to be a victim of internet fraud than any other crime, the cost of internet related criminality is estimated to be between £18 and £27 billion, yet we know the truth is that this figure is much larger and that the banks and other financial institutions need to face up to this issue and work collaboratively with the agencies concerned to tackle this issue.
“I’m sure most people would agree that if they have been a victim of card cloning or any other form of internet fraud that their first instinct is to report this to the bank, and try and get their money back. The police are not in the equation. Often the banks will not report these crimes.
“We have to think about how we record crime. The reporting of such crime to Action Fraud and the National Fraud Investigation Bureau should be introduced as a matter of urgency and steps taken to capture the facts by utilising modern technology and encouraging the banks and other financial groups to disclose the scale of the losses they are writing off.”
Mr Ball said that while many of us would never think of leaving our houses or cars unlocked, we do not always think about security when using the internet.
“Across the country there are tens of thousands of victims, and while the sums lost for some are small, many, particularly the elderly, lose thousands of pounds.
“We know that 80 per cent of internet related fraud is relatively easily preventable.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner has welcomed today’s announcement from the Home Office that £4m is being invested in a ‘Cyber Street’ campaign to educate small businesses and consumers on how to avoid falling victim to cyber crime.
Mr Ball said he will be calling on Warwickshire Police to ensure that officers are as equipped to offer the public advice on internet security as they are on home security.
He said cyber crime is not limited to the world of fraud and banks, but can also have devastating repercussions in the classroom, with cyber bullying also on the increase.
He said: “An area I am particularly concerned about is criminal cyber activity involving young people. We’re at a point where almost half of children have been bullied online at some point. One in four it has happened to more than once.
“This can range from bullying amongst themselves to wholly inappropriate sexual activity. I have a specific responsibility to safeguard children and this is something I am determined to see action taken on.”
The fight against cyber criminals is spearheaded by the National Crime Agency and the National Fraud Investigation Bureau.
The Regional Organised Crime Unit will lead on investigations in this region and Ron Ball says that Warwickshire will play a full and active part in supporting this.
He said: “Key to success will be the prevention message, and we will be pushing that this year, to get people to understand what they can do to safeguard themselves against cyber criminals.”
Work is underway locally with the creation of a task and finish Group to tackle cybercrime, chaired by Assistant Chief Constable Lewis Benjamin and is attended by Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Eric Wood and other key partners including Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards, schools and education and youth justice. The group plans to develop a Cybercrime Strategy.
Janet Faulkner, Warwickshire County Council’s Group Manager Trading Standards, said: “Warwickshire Trading Standards is actively engaged in partnership initiatives to tackle cyber crime, particularly in relation to the purchase of goods and services.”
Cllr Les Caborn, the county council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, said: “I welcome opportunities to raise awareness of this growing problem, and am fully supportive of work to educate and inform consumers and take enforcement action where necessary.”
Action Fraud has been created to allow for the reporting of internet fraud at http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or by calling 0300 123 2040.