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Force Recruits Cyber Volunteers In Fight Against Digital Crime

6th February 2018

Cyber specialist experts have been recruited to help Northumbria Police protect the public from internet-related crime.

The force and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird have recruited 18 volunteers who will identify people and businesses susceptible to exploitation or threat from cyber-crime.

Many of the volunteers are already working in a digital environment or studying a cyber-related degree such as digital forensics or computer science.

Adam Rowntree, who recently graduated from Teesside University with a first class honours in Computer and Digital Forensics, is one of the volunteers who’ll take up the role from this month. He said: “I have just started working for Engie – North Tyneside Council as a desktop engineer but I’ve always wanted to help and protect those who are vulnerable within our community. I believe that being a volunteer is a great way to help give something back.”

The volunteering scheme is being launched to coincide with Safer Internet Day (February 6), an annual awareness day which aims to promote safer and more responsible use of internet-connected technology, especially among young people.

Commissioner Baird said: “This is a great example of how volunteers can bring experience and insight from other walks of life to help further improve services. We see our cyber volunteer experts as an enhancement to the service we offer, supporting our police officers not replacing them.  Having schemes such as this gives us more opportunities to make use of the great enthusiasm and expertise skills from volunteers.  This level of specialist  expertise and input is, for me, incredibly valuable and I am grateful to everyone who dedicates their time and skills so that together we can try to make a difference.”

“Cyber crime is an ever-increasing part of police work and one that is particularly complex and links in with other priority areas such as child sexual exploitation and domestic abuse. The internet brings with it many benefits, however, it can also be harmful and Northumbria Police, working with partners will always ensure it is at the forefront of tackling such crime.”

Detective Superintendent Mick Barton, who is overseeing the volunteers, said: “The volunteers are an important part of our wider police family and as the cyber-crime issue becomes more challenging in years to come, they’ll enable us to provide an important service to our community. Our volunteers have an incredible range of expertise from the public and private sector and will really get the chance to put their knowledge to good use with opportunities to support live police operations and investigations.”

This year’s Safer Internet Day will also see Northumbria Police launch a brand new free service available to all local businesses. The North East Special Operations Unit have teamed up with local forces to deliver a series of cyber breakfasts. The cyber volunteers will be running the breakfast and will show businesses how they can be vulnerable to cyber-attack by demonstrating a live hack. They will also launch the new vulnerability assessment service, which can give an organisation an overview of their ICT weaknesses, so they can fix them before the cyber criminals find them. Northumbria will be the first force in the country to offer this sort of proactive service across a region.

The first of two breakfasts will take place at St James’ Park in Newcastle tomorrow (February 7) with a follow up breakfast taking place in Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on March 16. They are completely free to attend, and tickets are allocated on a first come first served basis. To sign up visit