Police have stressed how seriously they treat cyber crime following a new report criticising how the growing trend is tackled by forces nationally.
The National Audit Office (NAO) said the issue was “not yet a priority” for all local police forces and the problem had been overlooked by government, law enforcement and industry.
NAO chief Sir Amyas Morse said: “For too long, as a low value but high volume crime, online fraud has been overlooked by government, law enforcement and industry.
“It is now the most commonly experienced crime in England and Wales and demands an urgent response.
” He said the Home Office, while not solely responsible for tackling the issue, was the only organisation that could oversee the system and lead change.
Here in the North East, a Durham Constabulary spokesperson said: “We take online fraud extremely seriously and have a dedicated team to investigate and safeguard people against such activity.
“Our team regularly visit community organisations, banks and shops to educate people on the measures they can take to protect themselves from becoming a victim.
“We have recently launched our Blue Lights Discovery app to educate users in cyber security.
“This delivers interactive modules filled with cyber-crime history, threats, statistics and guidelines, all designed to make key knowledge available and accessible at all times. The app is available on both the Apple Store and Google Play Store.
“The force also has a dedicated Twitter account offering regular prevention advice and tips on cyber security.
Blue Lights Discovery, launched in conjunction with creative company Blue Lights Digital, delivers interactive modules filled with cyber-crime history, threats, statistics and guidelines, all designed to make key knowledge available and accessible at all times.
Durham Chief Constable Mike Barton said: “We have all seen the increased rate in which these cyber-threats are worming their way into our devices, which means that now more than ever, it’s imperative that we know how to protect ourselves.
“Keeping these threats at bay is achieved through minimising risk and knowing what precautions to take, and that’s exactly what this app helps users to achieve.”
Both Northumbria and Cleveland police have still to respond to the NAO report.
“To report a fraud that is currently taking place, call 999. For non-urgent incidents call 101.”