Cybercrime: a growing area of policing business

17 April 2015

Members of the Policing Board’s Performance Committee have met with ACC Kerr to discuss how the PSNI are tackling cybercrime. With a new target set in the 2015-16 Policing Plan to establish the levels of cyber bullying in Northern Ireland, Members also questioned the police response to those who are victims of internet trolls.

Jonathan Craig MLA, Chair of the Performance Committee, said:

“The police response to cybercrime and making sure the PSNI accurately record all incidents of cyber related crime has been a priority for the Board as has ensuring the PSNI plan and prioritise their response to this growing area of policing business.

Whilst the establishment of a new Cyber Crime Centre and District eCrime Support Units by the PSNI is a positive move, Committee Members share the view that the resourcing of this area of work needs further assessment given the evolution of cybercrime and the opportunity for criminals to exploit technology for their own ends.

During discussions at the Committee Board Members agreed that a clear message needs to be sent by the PSNI that those who engage in any form of online crime will be pursued. Mr Craig said:

“A crime committed online is no different to a crime committed on the street and the police need to assure victims that those who engage in criminal activity online will be investigated and where appropriate prosecuted.

On the issue of online bullying and harassment it is clear that legislation is outdated and has not kept pace with communication and technological developments. The Committee raised the lack of prosecutorial guidance with the Public Prosecution Service some time ago and is assured that this matter is progressing. The Committee agreed that the pace of change in technology is such that this is an issue requiring urgent review. As such the Committee has agreed to organise a multi-disciplinary seminar in Autumn 2015 to consider the future in terms of technology, potential threats to the public and importantly within the Board’s accountability function, the policing response.”

At the meeting Members also discussed a number of jurisdictional issues affecting the PSNI’s investigation of cybercrime as well as the accountability framework that police officers work within in pursuing investigations online. The Committee also heard that the new PSNI online cybercrime reporting facility introduced for businesses and industry in November 2014 is receiving 1 report every day. Finally Members were briefed on some of the ongoing work in relation to identifying and safeguarding victims of child sexual exploitation and identifying and prosecuting their abusers.


For more information please contact the Policing Board’s Communications Office on 07801738795.

Notes to Editors

Members in attendance: Jonathan Craig MLA (Chair), Gearóid Ó hEára (Vice Chair), Brice Dickson, Ryan Feeney, Gerry Kelly MLA, Trevor Lunn MLA, David McIlveen MLA, Brian Rea, Caitríona Ruane MLA, and Debbie Watters

Board oversight of cybercrime: The Performance Committee has prioritised the issue of cybercrime in its Annual Programme of Work since 2013 and has produced its own internal research report as well as having commissioned an independent external survey to assess public opinion. ‘Public confidence in the policing of Cybercrime’ commissioned by the Policing Board was undertaken by Millward Brown Ulster (MBU) and is available on the Board’s website

Notes to Editors Ends