On 17 November, the APPG Against Antisemitism, The APPG on Digital Crime, the Digital Trust & Thesis â€“ Fixated Risk Management held an event on The Dark Threats of Digital Crime. Speakers included Luciana Berger MP, Steve Kavanagh (Chief Constable Essex Police), Roisin Wood (Kick it Out), Liz Saville-Roberts MP (chair) Philip Allen andÂ Dr. Frank Franaham (Theseus Risk Management) and Harry Fletcher of the Digital Trust.
Parliamentarians in attendance included Baroness Onora O’Neill, Guto Bebb MP, Baroness Hamwee and Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede.
Overview: The nature of crime is changing, moving off to online. The Head of the College of Policing recently estimated that half of all crime reported to front line police had a digital element. Digital crime can involve: fraud, identity theft, extortion, grooming, data theft, harassment, threatening behaviour, antisemitism or racism and serious abuse.
Developing technology presents huge challenges for the Police and the Criminal Justice System.
Few staff have any experience of investigating digital crime and few cases result in prosecutions. Criminals are becoming more experienced and more sophisticated. Digital crime is now widespread. The ease of access to technology offer new opportunities for criminal behaviour.
Arguably the Police are using early 20th century methods to combat early 21st century crimes. There are too few opportunities for staff to be trained and yet social media abuse is getting out of control. Parliamentarians, journalists and those in the public eye are high-risk targets whilst the public in many cases have voiced frustration at a perceived lack of action.
Highlights of the Meeting
Police: Policing urgently needs to change and meet the challenge of online crime with a coherent programme, consistent response, increased digital capacity and better trained officers and staff. Specifically, awareness of how to respond to social media abuse and knowledge of when criminal thresholds have been met is vital. New partnerships are needed to respond to the shift in the way society operates and tools required to enable the Police to determine which cases need investigating.
Academia: The scale of the digital threat must be measured.
Government: Home office crime data does not catch the extent of online crime nor do its victims receive proper support. A Digital Crime Bill is required:
-There are over 30 Acts of Parliament which cover Digital Crime, this causes confusion and needs consolidating
-It is unclear whether or not certain activities such as locating and listening to someone, publishing multiple images and posting images without permission are illegal. A Bill would clarify this.
-A Bill would ensure that training and education were mandatory.
-A Bill could clarify the responsibilities of Industry including codes of standards, safety assessments and cooperation with the Police
-A Bill could also give the Secretary of State Powers to issue guidance in respect of new developments, ensure that best quality standards are followed and that risk assessments are followed.
Industry: Industry responsibility, support and cooperation is vital.
Industry should be asked to act promptly in risk assessing and closing down abusive accounts. Social media guidelines need to be revised and Industry should establish a third sector fund for combatting abuse. Civil Society/NGOs
There is a need to educate most abusers rather than criminalise them. There is a need for support so that victims can protect themselves.
Victims: Victims must learn to move away from the idea that abuse is something they should put up with.