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Police Scotland Report Suggests Rise in Cyber Threats

Ross Kelly


Police Scotland Cyber Crime

A report published by Police Scotland highlights a growing trend of cyber-crime, with fraudsters and other criminal elements increasingly turning to methods such as credit card fraud. 

Figures released by Police Scotland highlight an increasing rise in credit card fraud and other cyber-enabled crimes. The Quarter 4 Management Information Report provides in-depth information about the service and recorded crime across the country, detailing increasing threats posed to both people and businesses.

The data, which Police Scotland points out does not equate to official statistics, relates predominately to crime recorded by the police service and also information about incidents and survey data – covering the period from April 1st 2017 to March 31st 2018.

An in-depth breakdown of data available at police division or local authority level is also published alongside the report, providing a detailed glimpse into the threats that Police Scotland react to and defend against on a yearly basis.

Concerning Trends

According to the report, a total of 2,515,574 calls were made to Police Scotland in the last year, and this resulted in 255,504 crimes being recorded. Nestled in amongst this staggering number of recorded crimes, there were 8,628 incidents of fraud recorded in 2017-18, this constitutes a 17.9% increase on the previous year.

Police Scotland said these figures reflect a marked increase in cyber-enabled fraud through credit card scams and a myriad of other cyber crime techniques. The report also presents evidence pointing toward an increase in cyber-enabled sexual offences.

Published in March 2018, the Cyber Crime in Scotland: Review of the Evidence report shows that cyber crime is increasing and is contributing significantly to the overall number of sex crimes. Since criminal acts can now be committed remotely, technology has created new opportunities for criminals. This means people can now be victimised and harmed by individuals in other parts of the world.

The anonymity of online users often makes perpetrators bolder in their behaviour and more likely to take risks. As of April 2016, Police Scotland has introduced a cyber-marker to their crime recording systems and are considering ways in which to enhance how crimes with a cyber-element are marked.

Reacting to Threats

Interim Chief Constable Iain Livingstone says Police Scotland are pursuing a number of strategies to keep the public safe, both online and in day-to-day life. As criminal enterprise continues to evolve and adopt new technologies to operate, police services are constantly adapting to threats.

He said: “Our Policing 2026 strategy made it clear that the demands on policing are changing, with many crimes enabled by new technologies. Our priority is to keep people safe and we are adapting the way we work to enable us to better respond to the increase in online crime.”

Livingstone also said investment in Police Scotland’s cyber capabilities is paramount to meeting modern challenges, allowing dedicated cyber-crime units to tackle threats both at home and worldwide.

“We are investing in our cyber capabilities to ensure we are properly equipped to meet the modern challenges in keeping Scottish communities safe. We have dedicated cyber-crime units and work in partnership with national and international partners to tackle this growing threat.

“Levels of satisfaction and public confidence have remained very high and people will continue to see uniformed officers in their communities. We are moving officers from back office roles onto the frontline, but frontline policing has also moved into the virtual world where an increasing number of crimes are being committed.”

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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