Police Scotland invests £1.5 million in cyber-crime hub

News by Doug Drinkwater

A new cyber-crime hub is to be established in Edinburgh, Scotland in a bid to tackle online crimes, especially those looking to damage critical nation infrastructure.

The state-of-the-art facility will house specialist investigators who carry out forensic digital examinations of hardware in support of police investigations “from child sexual exploitation to serious organised crime.”

The hub will bring together existing units in the Scottish capital as well as in Glenrothes and Falkirk and will help Police Scotland respond to a huge rise in the demand for digital forensic services to support cyber-investigations and also help to protect the country's computer infrastructure from cyber- attacks. Digital forensics is a key point of conversation at the moment, given the skills gap in this area - Europol just announced that it plans to hold a conference on the subject.

The Scottish Police Authority approved the new facility, which will receive £1.5 million in investment.

In a blog post announcing the opening today, Police Scotland said that there has been a 47 percent increase in demand for digital forensic examinations since the group's inception just over two years ago. The amount of memory in devices submitted for examination doubles approximately every two years and has placed a “significant “demand on police resources, which requires ever increasing server space to cope with the data demands of a modern society.

Deputy chief constable Iain Livingstone, who leads on Crime and Operational Support, said: "Very few investigations today do not have a digital aspect to them - the darker side of the web is all too evident for us to see on a daily basis, whether it relates to the sharing of illegal images of children, online grooming, radicalisation, orchestrating serious organised crime or cyber-bullying.

“The ease with which we can access the internet through various devices has become part of everyday life. Inevitably, criminals are also increasingly exploiting this. That means law enforcement has to be up to the task of preventing and detecting crime in the online and digital world.

“The creation of a new, modern facility brings together the expertise which exists in Police Scotland.

"The new hub will become a centre of excellence and will also allow for more effective integration with key partners in academia and business. This kind of partnership working has the potential to turn the cyber threat into a significant opportunity to grow an industry sector that can be of major benefit to Scottish policing, the Scottish economy and the people of Scotland."

The development will be overseen by detective superintendent Stevie Wilson, who said: "The growing digital economy has seen the public adopt a vast array of personal devices including PC's, tablets, mobile phones, gaming consoles and Sat Nav equipment. With the ever increasing sophistication of these devices, we need to be able to effectively examine them when it is suspected they have been used in criminal activity.

Vic Emery, chair of the Scottish Police Authority, said: “Investing in a single cyber-crime facility creating equity of access to specialist support and national capacity is an important step in that journey as we seek to future proof policing for the decades ahead.”

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