Cyber volunteers join fight against digital crime

Volunteer cyber specialists have been recruited to add their expertise to Northumbria Police in the battle against internet-related crime and will even be given opportunities to support live police operations and investigations.

Feb 14, 2018

Volunteer cyber specialists have been recruited to add their expertise to Northumbria Police in the battle against internet-related crime and will even be given opportunities to support live police operations and investigations. The 18 volunteers will identify people and businesses susceptible to exploitation or threat from cybercrime. Many of the volunteers are already working in a digital environment or studying a cyber-related degree such as digital forensics or computer science. Detective Superintendent Mick Barton, who is overseeing the volunteers, said: “The volunteers are an important part of our wider police family and as the cybercrime issue becomes more challenging in years to come, they’ll enable us to provide an important service to our community. “Our volunteers have an incredible range of expertise from the public and private sector and will really get the chance to put their knowledge to good use with opportunities to support live police operations and investigations.” Adam Rowntree, who recently graduated from Teesside University with a first class honours in Computer and Digital Forensics, is one of the volunteers who will take up the role from this month. He said: “I have just started working for Engie-North Tyneside Council as a desktop engineer but I’ve always wanted to help and protect those who are vulnerable within our community. I believe that being a volunteer is a great way to help give something back.” Northumbria police and crime commissioner Dame Vera Baird said it was a great example of how volunteers can bring “experience and insight from other walks of life to help further improve services”. “We see our cyber volunteer experts as an enhancement to the service we offer, supporting our police officers not replacing them,” she added. “Having schemes such as this gives us more opportunities to make use of the great enthusiasm and skills from volunteers. This level of specialist expertise and input is, for me, incredibly valuable and I am grateful to everyone who dedicates their time and skills so that together we can try to make a difference.” “Cybercrime is an ever-increasing part of police work and one that is particularly complex and links in with other priority areas, such as child sexual exploitation and domestic abuse. “The internet brings with it many benefits, however, it can also be harmful and Northumbria Police, working with partners, will always ensure it is at the forefront of tackling such crime.” The volunteering scheme was launched to coincide with last week’s Safer Internet Day (February 6), an annual campaign to promote safer and more responsible use of internet-connected technology, especially among young people. It also saw the launch of a new free ‘cyber’ service available to all local businesses. The North East Special Operations Unit has teamed up with local forces – including Northumbria Police – to deliver a series of cyber breakfasts. The cyber volunteers will be running the breakfast and will show businesses how they can be vulnerable to cyber-attack by demonstrating a live hack. They will also launch the new vulnerability assessment service, which can give an organisation an overview of its ICT weaknesses so they can be fixed before the cyber criminals find them. Northumbria Police says it will be the first time this sort of proactive service has been offered across a region.

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