Computing civilians conscripted to combat cybercrime

This week Home Secretary Theresa May outlined plans to extend the remit of police volunteers with a push for people with IT skills who could help solve cybercrimes.

The new measures will form part of the Policing and Crime Bill and will allow volunteers to be given powers without becoming a special constable. People with IT or accountancy skills will be particularly sought after as volunteers to assist in the plight against cyber and financial crime.

The role of police volunteers is not new – civilians have been taking on the role of special constable with the full range of police powers since 1831. However, the announcement has attracted some negative comments from Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham who fears that the renewed focus on volunteers could “lead to policing on the cheap” and raised concern over the potential lack of checks that these volunteers would go through.

Aside from the debate on the effectiveness of the volunteering strategy, the announcement positively highlights the need for skilled computing professionals in the fight against cybercrime, not just within the private sector but also within public services.

Len Carter, Technical Recruitment Consultant (Cyber Security Specialist) at Networkers commented: “In a specialist industry which is already facing a skills shortage, it is more important than ever to encourage young people into the field of cyber security. These kinds of skills are already in demand in the private sector but they are also becoming increasingly desired within the public sector as the overall threat of cyber security attacks rises. It’s good to see that the Government is recognising the importance of IT skills in the fight against this newer form of crime. I wonder how realistic their expectations are in finding cyber security experts who have time to volunteer."

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