The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has announced the launch of three regional police cybercrime units at a cost of £6m.
E-crime hubs in Yorkshire and the Humber, the Northwest and one in the East Midlands are to be funded out of £30m set aside by the government to improve the UK’s national cybercrime investigation capability.
The government has allocated a total of £650m over four years to fighting cybercrime, which was identified in the National Security Risk Assessment as a tier-one threat requiring a national response.
The regional teams will generate their own investigations as well as work alongside the Metropolitan Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) which deals with national online security.
The new hubs will initially each have three staff members, a detective sergeant and two detective constables.
The new regional hubs will be fully operational after the completion of an initial training period, said deputy assistant commissioner Janet Williams, who heads ACPO's e-crime efforts.
"These three additional policing units are going to play a critical role in our ability to combat the threat," she told the ACPO e-crime conference in Sheffield.
Williams said the hubs are expected to make a significant contribution to the national harm reduction target of £504m.
Harm reduction is calculated using factors such as how much the criminal stood to gain, how much money was invested in the crime, and the potential cost to the victim.
"In the first six months of the new funding period alone we have already been able to show a reduction of £140m with our existing capability," said Williams.
James Brokenshire Minister for Crime and Security said: “Cybercrime is a threat locally and nationally, and every police force in the country has to deal with its impact on people and businesses in their area.
“As well as leading the fight in their regions, these units mark a significant step forward in developing a national response to cybercrime, which will be driven by the new National Crime Agency.”
This additional police focus on cybercrime reflects the size of the problem, according to Raj Samani, chief technology officer at McAfee for Europe, Middle-Ease and Africa.
Despite improved security and international crackdown efforts, cybercrime has thrived in the past decade, growing by double digits each year, he said.
“While it’s great to see this commitment from the police, we also have to get better at protecting our personal information if we want to slow cybercriminals’ success. Technology can only take us so far: the rest is education and vigilance on the part of computer users,” said Samani.