CUMBRIA Constabulary’s Cyber and Digital Crime Unit celebrates its one year anniversary since its launch on May 20 2019.

The Unit, funded by Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, focuses on the online crimes that affect Cumbria residents from fraud to child sexual exploitation.

Since its launch, the unit has worked on 90 cases in total with 47 cases related to online child abuse and 43 fraud cases. Over the last year 51 suspects in these cases have been arrested with 18 criminals being charged. The Digital Forensics Unit, which comes under the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit, has assisted with 355 cases across the Force with examinations of seized electronics.

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “Technology is advancing so quickly and criminals are realising that they can target trusting people from the comfort of their own home.

“This has never been more pertinent than through this lockdown when so many more people have been conducting business, education and communicating with each other on line.

“Criminals too have focused on opportunities to exploit online activity and, as always, they target the vulnerable in our communities.

“This is why it is so imperative that Cumbria has a dedicated and highly skilled team that can track online crime and bring criminals to justice.

“The CDCU is an essential part of the Constabulary helping track and arrest online predators and fraudsters as well as assisting in the location of evidence within electronics such as mobile phones and laptops.

“We all need to remain highly vigilant around what we click on and who we speak to while online – if you feel unsure about anything please report it to the Police on 101 or Action Fraud.

“The increase in council tax funded the establishing of the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit, it is money well spent and is already proving not only to be good value, but is worth its weight in gold to protect children and other vulnerable groups.

“The team have done a fantastic job over the past year and they continue to adapt to the fast changing online environment, to be a key weapon in our fight against criminals.”

Detective Inspector Ian Harwood leads the unit. He said: “These figures show how busy the unit has been in its first year and the important role it is playing in catching cyber criminals and protecting the public.

“This unit has, without a doubt, provided an improved service to protect anybody who uses a digital device.

“In this day and age, that includes most of us. If you shop online, use social media or use email to communicate you could fall victim to an online criminal if you do not take care.

“When we look at all the reported cybercrimes, almost all of them could be prevented by following our advice around protecting ourselves online.

“Using strong passwords, using an antivirus software and being vigilant around strange or unexpected emails and texts are just a few examples of simple steps to keep secure online. If in doubt, check it out.

“Cyber criminals can hide behind their screens. But their actions can have a huge impact on businesses, individuals, vulnerable members of society and children.”