New £250,000 unit opens in fight against cyber crime

Det Insp Vanessa Smith of West Yorkshire Police's new cyber crime unit.

Det Insp Vanessa Smith of West Yorkshire Police's new cyber crime unit.

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West Yorkshire Police has opened a new £250,000 unit as it steps up its fight against cyber crime across West Yorkshire.

The specialist unit is based at the force’s training complex at Carr Gate, Wakefield and has been funded by a grant from police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson.

Specially trained staff will use the latest techniques to clamp down on cyber crime and online fraud.

Det Spt Mark Ridley, who will be responsible for the unit, said: “The launch of this new team is an exciting advance for West Yorkshire Police and will significantly bolster our ability to investigate emerging cyber crime trends.

“These news officers have been purposely drawn from academia to ensure we have access to the best minds we can find who are experts in their fields and can bring their skills to bear to aid officers across the force in carrying out criminal investigations.”

The new unit will also provide support to other criminal investigations by using specialist technology and computer software.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: “Cyber crime is a growing and fast emerging threat of increasing concern for West Yorkshire residents and people throughout the UK.

“It is an issue I take very seriously and it is one of the main areas of focus and that’s why I have invested this money to help West Yorkshire Police tackle it after discussions with the Chief Officer Team.

“I would urge anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of cyber crime to come forward and report it to the police on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.”

The unit’s launch comes as part of West Yorkshire Police’s Get Safe Online week which runs from October 19 to 21 and aims to encourage people to keep safe online.

Det Insp Vanessa Smith, of the new cyber crime unit, said: “We are supporting Get Safe Online Week at West Yorkshire Police and really do want to encourage people to be more aware of how to reduce their vulnerability to online criminals.

“Simple things such as regularly changing passwords and then not using passwords with personal details such as birthdays in or number chains such as ‘1234’ can make a big difference.

“Cyber related crime is a rapidly expanding area and by working with our partners in in academia and in the private sector, we aim to become a leading force in this complex and fast changing field.”