Arrests in week of cyber crime action

Date: Friday 1st May 2020

FIVE people have been arrested at various locations around the county following a week of action by Cumbria Constabulary’s cyber and digital crime unit.

Two men and a woman from the Kendal area were released under investigation. A man from Carlisle was bailed, while another man, from the Whitehaven area, was also released under investigation.

Inspector Ian Harwood, who leads the unit, said: ‘“Our specialist officers are continuing their proactive work, often unseen, to deal with online offending and to help and safeguard those who are exploited.

“This is a dedicated unit staffed to deal with these type of offences — and I can reassure the people of Cumbria that the team is working tirelessly behind-the-scenes to keep children and other people safe, as well as track down anyone exploiting them.

“Anybody out there involved in this type of activity should be clear on this: The impact of the current COVID-19 public health emergency does not stop us tackling the world of online crime.”

In addition to the arrests, a total of 28 digital devices have been seized as part of investigations carried out last week.

The ongoing work of the unit in the last week also led to six people being charged with offences in connection with separate investigations. The charges included: possessing extreme pornography, making indecent images of children, sexual communication with a child, attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity, attempting sexual communication with a child and attempting to cause a child to watch a sexual act.

Cumbria’s police and crime commissioner Peter McCall said: “The cyber and digital crime unit have done a fantastic job. It is just over 12 months ago that we were able to fund the cyber unit with income raised from council tax precept. Already in 12 months the unit is making a significant difference to the lives of people in Cumbria.

“This is your council tax working for you to keep us all, especially our children and vulnerable people, safe from cyber criminals. With the world of technology constantly advancing, criminals are adapting to it — criminals are targeting vulnerable adults and children online which is why we need skilled officers tracking them online.

“Coronavirus will not stop our unseen police force from stopping dangerous criminals who are a threat to the public. It’s a clear message to criminals across the county operating behind closed doors: the police can still find and will catch you.”

DI Harwood added: “Tackling online crime and protecting young people is of the utmost importance to us. The way criminals who look to exploit children operate has developed with the continuous advancement in technology.

“Many of the crimes we deal with are unseen to the public, with offenders using online technology to contact children to groom them into sexual or criminal activity. This is happening behind closed doors, sometimes invisible to parents or guardians.

“I would urge people to familiarise themselves with and to monitor what their children are doing online, especially as more people may be going online while the current restrictions are in place.”

Police advised parents to place restric-tions on devices to protect their children. Further advice is available at Security settings on social media should be high and children can be taught that it is easy for people to lie about age, gender, interests and more online, and children should never arrange to meet someone without an adult they trust. Make it clear once they share details or pictures online, they lose control over where these may end up.