A new pilot project involving specialist volunteers is helping Hampshire Constabulary to increase its skills in preventing and solving cyber crimes. Home Secretary Theresa May visited the new Forensic Innovation Centre in Portsmouth to view demonstrations of the force's work.

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This week marked the start of the Cyber Special Constable and Cyber Volunteer (CSCV) Programme operated by Hampshire Constabulary and Gloucestershire Constabulary, which will run the pilot together for the next six to twelve months.

Visit by the Home Secretary

The initiative was highlighted by the Home Secretary who visited the pioneering Forensic Innovation Centre at the University of Portsmouth on Monday (January 18, 2016).

This centre, the first of its type in the country, is where researchers, students and serving police staff work together to solve crimes while supporting students’ learning and career ambitions.

Theresa May toured the award-winning facility, watching demonstrations of digital detective work, meeting several of the new cyber volunteers, police officers and staff at the centre.  Simon Hayes, police and crime commissioner, welcomed the Home Secretary to the facility and led a round-table discussion of the project with the Home Secretary, officers from Hampshire and Gloucestershire Constabularies, the Cyber Special Constables and Volunteer, and the Universities of Portsmouth and Southampton.

Commissioner Hayes recently announced £1.5 million of funding for Hampshire Constabulary to remain at the forefront of combating cyber crime. This provides funding for three years for increased resources to respond to cyber crime threats to businesses and individuals.

Simon Hayes, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight said:

“As we embrace technology and conduct our lives online, so crime has changed and moved online to follow us. In fact, the Home Office expects Cyber Crime to exceed traditional crime by next year. In order to protect us, and to prevent and pursue Cyber Crime, the police must be funded to uplift their efforts to respond to victims.

“The National Crime Agency (NCA) has said that 80 per cent of Cyber Crime can be prevented, it is important that Hampshire Constabulary plays its part to protect our communities and business from this type of criminality.  We need this facility and volunteers in place to allow us to react quickly and effectively to new online threats; we must also constantly refresh our advice to the public on how they can protect their online lives.”

First stages for the pilot

There are two special constables and one volunteer within Hampshire Constabulary's cyber support team as the pilot begins. They will be giving 16 hours per month in a range of roles such as advising on live digital investigations, analysing phones or computers for evidence, and providing advice to Hampshire Constabulary's regular digital investigators.

A decision will be made about a national roll-out to other police forces when the pilot is completed.

Hampshire Constabulary's Chief Specials' Officer Tom Haye said:

"In the same way we build partnerships in neighbourhood policing, we're working with our IT community to recruit new police volunteers and special constables with specific skills and experience to enhance our expertise and effectiveness.

"The nature of crime is changing, and this pilot project is about helping the police force progress to take on new and more sophisticated criminal cyber threats by having a wider range of people with the best possible specialist abilities.

"Cyber special constables and cyber police support volunteers have tremendous potential to reinforce the knowledge and capability of the workforce. The project also aims to build up a much closer relationship to industry and the IT community to support the role police are taking in tacking cyber crime.

"As a volunteer with 25 years’ experience, I am extremely proud to lead a team of ‘Specialist’ specials and volunteers supporting law enforcement."

Another volunteer involved in the pilot is Hampshire Constabulary Special Constable Stuart Moulton, who works in Global Security Sales Operations for Cisco UK and Ireland. He said:

"I wanted to give back to my local area, so I contacted my manager who helped me get this setup and cleared internally at Cisco. That was three years ago now and I think Cisco get a better version of me back as a result. It was coincidental that this was an avenue I wanted to pursue and give back to my local community, and now some of the skills and intelligence I’ve accrued over the past fifteen years in my day job around cyber security will now benefit me in the police work. Cisco has a positive and forward-thinking volunteering policy, and it’s great to work for a company that not only supports my passions but creates opportunities to express them in this way.”

What’s the difference between a cyber special constable and a cyber police volunteer?
A cyber special constable is the equivalent to a regular special constable, having completed the full training expected of someone to hold the powers of constable. A cyber special constable who is attached to our cyber team does not patrol the beat in uniform. Their role is focused behind-the-scenes supporting digital investigations and intelligence. Some special constables will be attached to normal shifts or districts whilst supporting our digital investigations on an ad-hoc basis. Cyber police volunteers have no formal police powers because they are not constables. Their training and recruitment will be quicker to complete, allowing them to join Hampshire Constabulary sooner. Once with the force, their specialist skills will be deployed to advise and assist on our four ‘Ps’ approach to tackling cyber crime: Prepare, Protect, Prevent and Pursue.

How many volunteers are you looking to recruit?
We are looking to recruit a further five special constables and five volunteers during the trial, and there is a scope for a total of 10 special constables and 10 police volunteers being led by a senior special constable.

What type of people are you looking to recruit?
We want people that possess a diverse set of technical abilities and experiences in IT technology to add to the strength of our existing workforce. This can set solid foundations to create a skills database giving us regular access to the volunteers that can enhance and enable even more robust responses and investigations into cyber or digitally enabled crime.

How do people apply during this pilot?
People interested in applying can contact Hampshire Constabulary in the usual way by phoning 101 or contacting us through the force website. We will be approaching IT companies at the highest levels to seek support and encourage interest from high-quality candidates with the skills we need. This approach allows companies to sign up to the existing Employee Supported Policing programme. For more details, visit our website: http://www.hampshire.police.uk/internet/about-us/join-us/employee-supported-policing