Police launch specialist team to combat cyber criminals in Sunderland and South Tyneside

Northumbria Police launch specialist unit to tackle cyber criminals.
Northumbria Police launch specialist unit to tackle cyber criminals.

Police have launched a specialised team aimed at tackling cyber criminals.

Northumbria Police's Cyber Crime Unit has been up and running for several years, but in January, a specialist team dedicated to tackling what’s known as cyber-dependent crime was set up to pursue perpetrators and offer more support to those affected by the devastating consequences of crimes such as hacking.

Dame Vera Baird.

Dame Vera Baird.

Following an announcement by the National Police Chiefs’ Council last week, which revealed every force in England and Wales is now equipped with a dedicated Cyber Crime Unit thanks to a multi-million pound investment from the Government, Northumbria Police can now officially unveil details of its own specialist team public.

Based in Byker, the team is made up of a Det Sgt, four Det Constables, three civilian staff members who are assisted by a team of cyber volunteers.

Led by Det Insp Sally MacDonald, the team has the capacity, skill set and infrastructure to clamp down on offenders committing crimes such as hacking, Malware and viruses.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, said: “Cyber crime is an ever-increasing part of behind-the-scenes police work. The internet brings with it many benefits, however, it can also bring a great deal of harm and damage to people and businesses.

"This dedicated resource will help ensure Northumbria Police is at the forefront of tackling such crime.”

Det Insp Macdonald said: “As technology advances, people find themselves relying on it more and more which is why it can be so devastating for victims to find out they have been targeted.

"As we see an increase in people using technology, we see an increase in what we call cyber dependent crime – crimes which can only be committed through the use of a device like computers, mobile phones and tablets. The devices are both the tool for committing the crime and the target.

“It’s great to see the force taking a proactive step in trying to prevent these types of crimes."

She said the force will continue to work with our partners to prevent organised criminals from carrying out cyber offences which have a serious impact on their victims.”

The team is responsible for carrying out investigations, pursuing perpetrators and protecting victims. They also raise awareness with individuals and businesses to try to prevent them falling foul of the tricks used by hackers and teach people how to protect themselves in the event of a hack or virus.

A total of £7million of Home Office funding was distributed nationally to help forces build their Cyber Crime Units and recruit specialist officers, invest in technology, equipment and training.

The announcement was made at a launch event held by Chief Constable Peter Goodman in his role as National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for Cyber Crime.

Chief Constable Goodman said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ to announce the ‘significant step forward’ in improving the overall response to cyber crime in England and Wales.