North Yorkshire Police has teamed up with Aviva, the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Cybercrime Unit and the "AntiSocial Engineer" to train its new volunteer Cybercrime Ambassadors.
The first group of 50 volunteers made up of Police Support Volunteers, Special Constables and Volunteer Police Cadets began training on 6 February 2018 to deliver vital crime prevention messages about online fraud, cold calling, dating scams, mass-marketing fraud, phishing and bank account and pension frauds.
As cybercrime becomes a major threat to members of the public and demand increases on the police service to investigate such crimes, Volunteer Cybercrime Ambassadors have been introduced to help raise awareness and provide advice on how to prevent it. They will also help tackle the issue of door-step callers and telephone fraudsters who deliberately target older and vulnerable people.
Once trained, the volunteers will then be ready to go out into the communities of North Yorkshire to deliver talks, organise events and presentations to help educate people about how to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime or fraud.
Natasha Almond, North Yorkshire Police’s Citizens in Policing Coordinator Manager, said: “Cyber-enabled fraud is on the rise and is one of North Yorkshire Police’s key priorities.
“Anyone can be a potential victim. Those committing the offence do not discriminate by social status or geographical location, particularly when utilising technology-enabled scams. People of all ages are affected, including those who are financially or technologically sophisticated and confident, but within this diversity of victims, older people may be particularly vulnerable.
“Fraud is also a major threat to older people’s financial security and overall health and wellbeing. In some cases they are stripped of their life-savings within very short periods of time, impacting severely on their physical and mental health.
“We’ll be targeting a range of different demographic groups, from young people who are at risk of online shopping fraud, to dating website users, to older people who are vulnerable to high value frauds.
“Aviva recognises the importance of ensuring we take action to stop cybercrime and help people become more aware of the risks and how they can protect themselves. They have kindly offered the use of their premises in York for training purposes and my thanks go to Aviva and the Regional Cybercrime Unit for their support. We also have the support and input from some of the leading practitioners on cybercrime prevention in the country.”
This initial group of Cybercrime Ambassadors has been recruited from North Yorkshire Police’s existing pool of volunteers. Later this year, a group of new volunteers, specifically recruited for the role will begin their training.
The group heard from speakers including Detective Constable Steve Pugh and Protect Officer Randeep Kaur of the Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Cybercrime Unit, Detective Inspector Jon Hodgeon, Head of North Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, and Richard De Vere, a specialist in cyber security and social engineering .
Cybercrime was also the theme of North Yorkshire Police’s first ever Citizens in Policing* conference with expert speakers from across the country who shared their cybercrime knowledge and expertise.
*Citizens in Policing is the term used to describe volunteers who work within or alongside the police service such as Special Constables, Police Support Volunteers and Volunteer Police Cadets.