A number of measures are being taken to keep the residents of County Durham safe from computer criminals who are targeting people through the internet.
As criminal activity continues to move online and increasing numbers of people fall victim to it, the Safe Durham Partnership is using a range of methods to stop cyber fraudsters and thieves.
The Safe Durham Partnership is a partnership set up to improve public safety and tackle crime. Its members include Durham County Council, Durham Constabulary, Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue, and other organisations.
Durham’s assistant chief constable, Dave Orford, who is the chair of the Safe Durham Partnership, said, “Cyber-crime is a fast-growing area of crime, with more and more criminals exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the internet to commit a diverse range of criminal activities which know no borders, either physical or virtual, cause serious crime and pose very real threats to victims.”
“Locally in County Durham we are working in partnerships across our communities and our businesses to raise awareness of the risks.”
The Safe Durham Partnership has established a multi-agency group to tackle the emerging threat of cyber-crime through raising awareness, education and other measures. In addition, Durham Constabulary has set up a Digital Intelligence and Investigation Team to deal with cyber-crimes and to keep up-to-date with the latest threats, viruses and online scams.
Councillor David Boyes, the chair of Durham County Council’s Safer and Stronger Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said, “We are supportive of the work of the Safe Durham Partnership in keeping those who may be vulnerable to becoming victims of online crime safe.”
“Cyber-crime is very much a 21st century challenge and we need to adapt to this changing world to deal with criminals who look to take advantage.”
“It is important that we help get the message out to our communities about the risks of becoming a victim of online crime.”
“Cyber-crime may be prevented by taking simple steps. These include creating a complex password, updating anti-virus software and not clicking on unexpected e-mails from unknown sources.”
“Through our 14 Area Action Partnerships, we will continue to support the Safe Durham Partnership in getting these crime prevention messages out to our communities.”
The Safer and Stronger Communities Committee was recently briefed on a number of measures taken to tackle online crime. These included the Get Safe Online campaign, which offers safety tips on issues such as online finance, social media, children and the internet, online shopping and doing business online.
The committee also heard about the Stay Safe Online at Christmas project, which used an online advent calendar to spread safety messages, and about work done in schools to counter internet hate speech and bullying on social media.
People can report cyber-crime by telephoning Durham Constabulary on 101 or by going to their website at www.durham.police.uk. For more advice on how to protect yourself, your devices or your business against fraud, identity theft, viruses and other problems, please go to www.getsafeonline.org/durham.
It is hard to gauge the exact levels of cyber-crime. However, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that, in the 12 months before June 2016, 3.8 million cyber-crimes were committed in the UK. The ONS also estimates that there were 487,000 instances in which people lost money because of online fraud and computer viruses.