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Cyber Crime Reports Since 2014/15

Question

I am submitting this FOI to find out about cyber crime offences your police force has investigated.

By cyber crime, I mean the unauthorised access or deliberate disruption to a computer system or device and any crimes committed which have a cyber element by using internet services or offences carried out by using a computer.

 Please answer the following:

1. How many cyber crimes have been investigated by your police force in the past three financial years (eg 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17?

2. Please break these down by type of offence (eg fraud, blackmail, sexual offences)

3. How many of the cyber crimes investigated by your force remain unsolved?

4. How many people have been charged/convicted during the last 12 months for offences with a cyber element?

5. What budget has been set aside by your force in the last 12 months dedicated to investigating cyber crime and what percentage is this of your force’s overall budget?

6. How many officers and/or civilian staff does your force employ who are solely dedicated to cyber crime? How many cyber crime posts are currently vacant?

Answer

1. Please see the table below for the number of reported crimes that have been flagged as ‘cyber-crime.’

 

2014/2015

2015/2016

2016/2017

Cyber flagged crime:

608

1173

1094

2. Please see the table below for the breakdown of these.

Cyber flagged Crime

2014/2015

2015/2016

2016/2017

Burglary

3

 

3

Criminal Damage

28

5

1

Fraud Forgery

9

25

1

Other Offences

112

178

171

Robbery

2

 

 

Sexual Offences

131

82

85

Theft And Handling Stolen Goods

66

18

17

Violence Against The Person

257

865

816

Sum:

608

1173

1094

3. Your request for the number of unsolved cyber-crimes has been considered and I am not obliged to provide this information, the exemption applicable to this is Section 31(1)(a)(b) Law Enforcement. This is a qualified exemption and we are required to consider the harm in disclosing this information as well as considering the public interest.

Harm considerations

The police service is charged with enforcing the law, preventing and detecting crime, and protecting the communities we serve. The disclosure of information will not be made where the current or future prevention and detection of crime, apprehension and prosecution of offenders or the administration of justice may be hindered as a result. To disclose the number of ongoing investigations, or unsolved cases would undermine the effective delivery of operational law enforcement by revealing policing activity.

Factors favouring disclosure

Disclosing the number of ongoing or unsolved cases, would enable the public to see how effectively public funds are being spent. This would allow an informed debate on constabulary’s ability to tackle this type of crime. Better public awareness would contribute to the accuracy of public debate.

Factors against disclosure

The police service has a duty to deliver effective law enforcement ensuring the prevention and detection of crime, apprehension or prosecution of offenders and administration of justice is carried out appropriately. To disclose information which would identify ongoing investigations or unsolved cases would allow individuals to become aware of those that we are actively investigating and those which we aren’t. This may identify where operations are taking place and as such law enforcement tactics would be compromised, hindering the prevention and detection of crime. It could also confirm to individuals whether or not their activities have been detected. The resultant effect could be that, more crime could be committed and individuals placed at risk.

Balance test

Whilst the accountability to the public regarding this Forces use of public funds is significant, any disclosure which could disrupt the Forces ability to carry out its law enforcement role will not serve the public’s interest.  Therefore I have determined that the arguments supporting the stance to not disclose outweigh those favouring disclosure.

4. In 2016/17 30 individuals were convicted or charged with a cyber flagged crimes. Please note an individual may have been charged or convicted with more than one offence during this period. 

5. The budget related to cyber-crime is part of a combined budget with other non-cyber-crime teams. It is not possible to break the budget down to the funds available solely for tackling cyber-crime.

6. The investigation of cybercrime is part of everyday policing so our front line officers, PCSO’s and police staff are trained to deliver the appropriate level of services to the public in this area.  Both police officers and police staff across the force engage in these types of investigations and have been trained at a variety of levels depending on what their roles require. There is in addition a regional resource. Within Avon and Somerset we have a Digital Investigation Unit with six FTE members of staff whose roles include investigating cyber-crime.

FOI reference: 617/17.

Date of request: 12.05.17.