The true scale of cybercrime has been revealed by the most in-depth survey of its kind ever undertaken in Warwickshire.
Losses suffered by victims in Warwickshire could total £2.5 million each year.
The survey also suggests that 82,200 people fell victim to online crime in the last 12 months in Warwickshire, while nearly a quarter of a million people in the county feel at risk online. Around 2.4 percent of respondents had no idea how to protect themselves online.
If the figures for Warwickshire are representative of the picture nationally, it would suggest that online criminals have successfully targeted 9.6 million victims in the past year, costing them some £300 million.
‘Cybercrime – The Real Story’ was commissioned jointly by Warwickshire County Council and the Office of the Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner. The survey was carried out earlier this year by the Warwickshire Observatory, asking people to share their experiences of online crime through a series of 36 questions.
The key survey findings were:
> Over half of respondents were targeted by phishing scams, with 1 in 10 going on to become victims.
> One in five that spend over seven hours a day online will become a victim of cybercrime.
> As age increases, knowledge of online crime risks reduces slightly, while the feeling of being at risk increases significantly.
> Under 18s are the age group most targeted for online harassment or bullying with female respondents targeted twice as much as males.
> Nearly one third of parents have neither applied online restrictions nor spoken to their children about internet safety.
> “I did not think anyone could help” was the number one reason for not reporting cybercrime, followed by “did not know who to report it to”.
Details of the survey were shared at a conference of practitioners from across policing and local government today at the UK Headquarters of IBM in Warwick today (Tuesday September 29).
Alongside the findings, the audience was given an overview of the work being carried out across the county to tackle cybercrime by police and local government, while practitioners were also given training on how to spot cybercrime and the key steps to prevent it by Rob Hadfield, Head of Content for Get Safe Online.
The event was part of a programme of measures designed to increase awareness in the community about cybercrime and how people can identify, report and protect themselves and their businesses from becoming victims to criminals online.
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball said: “The results of this survey give for the first time an idea of the true scale and impact of cybercrime within Warwickshire. While traditional measures of crime such as burglary and car theft have shown significant declines across the past decade, criminals are increasingly turning their attentions online. The numbers of potential victims uncovered by the survey is staggering and shows that cybercrime now represents one of the most significant challenges we face locally, nationally and in fact globally.
“Many people don’t realise they have become a victim of cybercrime, are too embarrassed to come forward or simply do not believe that anything can be done about it, meaning that the scale of the problem has until now been hard to quantify and somewhat hidden from view. Armed with the data from this survey, we now have a more accurate picture, which will allow us to target our resources more effectively.
“It’s clear that cybercrime and internet fraud are booming and the nature of policing will have to change to keep up with the increasingly sophisticated ways criminals are exploiting online vulnerabilities. In Warwickshire we have already invested in a range of initiatives to tackle cybercrime, while at national level more work needs to be done to ensure that this growing threat can be countered. There is more to be done and today’s conference marks the start of a renewed effort to tackle cybercrime as well as raised awareness so people can take practical steps to avoid becoming a victim.”
Copies of the full survey report, which also includes information on the key contacts for reporting cybercrime, can be downloaded at: www.warwickshireobservatory.org
For more information on how to keep safe online, visit the Warwickshire Police website at www.warwickshire.police.uk/becybersmart