Should Volunteers Help Police Fight Computer Crime?

Posted: April 12, 2016 in Articles
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Volunteers Help PoliceWhat is the best way for police to utilise their funds when it comes to tackling cybercrime.

An announcement that the Hampshire Constabulary are looking for skilled IT workers to act as Special Constables has caused a bit of controversy and consternation.

There is no doubt that fighting cybercrime is a difficult task and having as much assistance as possible is vital. One of the biggest problems for police forces is that they tend to be a step or two behind the leading criminals and operators in this field. Computer crime moves at a tremendous pace and there are times when the police are just about catching up with the technology and working practices of the leading criminals only to find that the people they are looking for have made massive leaps forward.

In this light, there will be plenty of people backing the Hampshire Constabulary for looking to bring in talented volunteers to aid the Cyber Special Constable and Cyber Volunteer Programme (CSCV). It is a bit of a mouthful but the move will see people work alongside the cyber support team for a total of 16 hours a month. The specialists will advise officers on how to analyse phones for evidence and how to carry out live digital investigations. This is investigation work at a very high standard and there is no doubt that this sort of activity could have a major impact on crime in a local area.

Volunteers Help Police

Money is being spent on cybercrime

It has been announced that £1.5m has been set aside to boost the fight against cybercrime in recent times. This is pleasing news but it is also the part of the news that has caused some concern and confusion in some quarters. It is fair to say that the equipment used in tracking cybercrime is expensive and it costs a lot of money to maintain and 8utilise to the best of its capabilities. This will be responsible for a great deal of the money being used. However, there are complaints about the use of volunteers to man and support the system. If there is considerable money being put into equipment, surely there should be considerable money put into funding employment opportunities.

It seems as though the police force is looking to gain the benefits and expertise of experts, some of whom may have studied academically or at least put in considerable hours to develop the skills that are now in high demand. In any other line of work, businesses would be criticised for trying to obtain quality workers for no fee so surely the police should be living by the same rules? The current economic outlook means that many people are looking for jobs. There will be arguments put forward that someone serving as a volunteer will gain tremendous experience and will also have some great work to place on their CV. In the long run, this may provide benefit to the computer experts but in the short term, people are being asked to volunteer and give up their time with no guarantee of any benefit or reward.

Money should be invested in cybercrime specialists

If the police are looking to fight cybercrime in the most effective manner, it may be that spending money on training and hiring professionals would be a far better use in the long-term. Once the current volunteers find paid work or are unable to provide their services at no real cost (certainly no cost that recognises their skills or effort), there will be a need to find new volunteers, get them up to speed quickly and hope that they are able to continue the process. This may actually hamper investigations in the future, and it is another indicator that this strategy appears to be one that is focused on the short-term.

Everyone knows that police forces are strapped for cash and that there is a need to find value for money in everything that they do. However, given the importance of cybercrime and the short-term nature of volunteers, it may be that saving money will cause problems in the long term. Cybercrime is not going to go away or diminish, which may mean that investing properly in this area will be of benefit.

Most major defence solicitor companies understand the importance and impact of cybercrime, and this is why these organisations have professionals in place that fully understand this crime and the workings of it. There is a need for police forces to get serious in dealing with cybercrime or run the risk of lagging behind.


Author bioAndrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.

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