Warwickshire County Council, Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe and Warwickshire Police have launched a new survey to assess the impact that online crime is having around the county.
The cybercrime survey – which can be found here: ask.warwickshire.gov.uk/insights-service/cyber-crime-survey-2019/ – is being run by the Warwickshire InSight Team and asks people to share their experiences of online crime through a series of questions.
It’s the third time that residents and businesses across Warwickshire have been surveyed in this way, covering issues relating to both cyber security (including viruses, frauds and hacking); and social media issues (such as hate speech, stalking and revenge porn).
The last survey, conducted in 2016/2017, gained a large number of responses and found that:
- People in Warwickshire had fallen victim to approximately 15,000 successful phishing scams across the previous 12 month period.
- Over 5,500 residents had been a victim of an online romance scam.
- 9,900 had been victim of identity fraud.
- 30,000 fell victim to viruses and malware.
- An estimated 6,000 online hate crimes had taken place.
- Other online fraud and theft offences accounted for a further 21,500 victims.
The new survey will seek to examine how the picture has changed across Warwickshire over the past two years and whether residents are more aware of the dangers that can be posed online and the things that they are able to do to minimise these risks.
Taking account of the last survey findings, Warwickshire has increased its response to cyber crime, with highlights over the last two years including:
- The development of the Cyber Safe Warwickshire website and social media accounts, keeping residents up to date with the latest cyber crime information and protection advice.
- The organising of the ‘Game Safe Warwickshire’ event, which engaged hundreds of Year 9 students across the county in a session tackling the topics of online grooming and gaming safety.
- Over 4,100 residents engaged with Warwickshire’s Cyber Crime Advisors in 2018/19, who helped educate them on their top tips to reduce their risk of harm from cyber crime.
- Enforcement work from Trading Standards has led to the prosecutions of a man for the online supply of unsafe and counterfeit phone chargers and cases and a producer of fraudulent qualification certificates and work permits sold online. Additional investigations have also cracked down on online sales of fake jewellery, online lettings agents, food ordering services and teeth whitening sellers.
Philip Seccombe, Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The third survey is an excellent opportunity to continue to raise awareness of cybercrime and the harm that it causes across communities.
“The evidence shows that county residents and businesses are more likely to fall victim to cyber crime and online fraud than almost any other type of offence, with criminals becoming ever more sophisticated in their approach. It’s really important that the police and other agencies continue to have an up-to-date picture of the volume and nature of cyber crime in the county, so they can continue to evolve their approach to targeting those responsible.
“We know that criminals are always seeking to find new ways to take advantage of victims online, so it’s really important that our Cyber Crime Advisors can tailor their work to ensure they raise public awareness of the newly-emerging types of cyber crime being experienced in the county, to help people avoid becoming a victim in the first place.”
Councillor Andy Crump, Warwickshire County Council Portfolio holder for Fire & Rescue and Community Safety, said: “The scale of cybercrime in Warwickshire uncovered by last survey in 2017 was truly shocking. While we hear the term frequently these days and most people have been aware that it is a growing threat, the numbers of victims uncovered by the survey shows that cybercrime is something that has the potential to affect everyone.
“Cybercrime is a growing community safety issue as victims can be seriously affected, not just financially but also emotionally, with feelings of depression, and sometimes worse, as a result. The economic impact on local businesses of cybercrime is also something that cannot be underestimated. Warwickshire County Council will be watching closely the results of this latest survey to see how the picture has changed over the past 2 years.”
There is advice and guidance on cyber safety available to Warwickshire residents on the cybersafe Warwickshire website: www.cybersafewarwickshire.com
Take part in the second annual cybercrime survey here: ask.warwickshire.gov.uk/insights-service/cyber-crime-survey-2019/