Police need the latest cyber skills to keep Britain safe

In an exclusive opinion article, Patrick Sullivan, CEO of leading UK think tank Parliament Street argues that it’s time to give police forces extra cybercrime resources to tackle sophisticated attacks from Russia

Police on the beat: Cybercrime on the rise
Patrick Sullivan, Political Editor
On 19 March 2018 20:57

The fight against cybercrime is relentless, complex and expensive. Rogue states and criminal hackers are increasingly targeting Britain’s critical national infrastructure, putting national security at risk.

Last year, the NHS hack caused serious disruption to our health service, putting lives on the line and sparking a major security scare. Today Parliament Street is unveiling its latest research paper, revealing that UK police forces have spent £1.3million training officers with cybercrime skills to tackle these growing threats.

In total, nearly 40,000 officers and members of staff have passed through these schemes.

Our research found that North Wales Police topped the list with £375,488 spent on cybercrime training for officers and staff between 2015 and 2017. This included a dedicated five day 'Main Stream Cyber Training' course for 147 key staff, totalling £160,000.

There was also a one-day cyber-crime input course for all new Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP) recruits for 183 officers which cost £29,900. An additional £52,300 was spent on a similar course for 68 CID officers.

West Mercia and Warwickshire Police submitted a joint response, totally £125,633, followed by Lincolnshire which stated it had spent £119,834. This was followed by West Midlands Police on £91,200 and Police Scotland on £83,121.

This is too little too late. Our police deserve better, if they are to protect us from serious online assaults from countries like Russia. That’s why today we’re calling for a national cyber training programme for all new police recruits, existing officers and back office staff.

We’re also proposing that cyber best practice courses are properly shared between forces, to drive up standards. We also need to see more recruits joining the police with existing cyber skills.

This means providing more attractive employment packages, reaching out to experts in the tech industry and driving up the numbers of digitally-savvy experts who join our police forces.

Patrick Sullivan is Chief Executive of Parliament Street, one of the UK's most influential think tanks 

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