A police unit specializing in Cumbria has handled over 200 cybercrimes and nearly 165 online child abuse investigations over the two years of its inception.
The Cyber Digital Crime Unit (CDCU) is made up of officers specially trained to arrest offenders who exploit vulnerable people online.
This week under the force Operation FILM 2, Cumbria Police want to draw attention to the work of this team.
His work often provides evidence in major investigations and trials, such as the murder of Lee McKnight.
As part of the week, the CDCU team will invite the public to submit questions, via the force’s social media accounts, which will be answered in a live event on November 25 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Detective Inspector Ian Harwood, who heads the unit, said: “Our specialist officers continue their proactive work to fight online crime and to help and protect those who are exploited.
The unit investigates and prosecutes offenders, while helping businesses and individuals protect themselves against attacks.
Crimes addressed by its agents include child sexual abuse and online exploitation crimes such as downloading and distributing indecent images of children, sexual communication with a child, and organizing and facilitating ‘sexual offenses against children. It also covers offenses such as hacking, digital fraud and online exploitation.
The unit is also forensic examinations of digital devices that have been seized during police investigations.
DI Harwood added: “Tackling online crime and protecting vulnerable children and adults, including violence against women and girls, is of the utmost importance to us. The way criminals who seek to exploit their victims operate has developed with continuous advancements in technology.
“Many of the crimes we deal with are invisible to the public, with offenders using online technology to contact their victims and prepare them for sexual or criminal activity. It happens behind closed doors, sometimes invisible to friends and family.
The unit is funded directly by Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall.
He said: “We are all aware that technology is advancing rapidly, and so criminals are also adapting and using online methods to target vulnerable and confident people.
“I funded the Cumbria Police Cybercrime and Digital Crime Unit to tackle this threat – and now we have a team of experts to help prevent cybercrime and catch cybercriminals. The truth is, this type of crime is rampant and we all need to help by doing what we can to protect ourselves and our children online.
Anyone who is a victim of cybercrime can contact the agents via the police website or by calling 101. If there is a current situation, dial 999.
Anyone wishing to access assistance without police intervention can contact victim assistance directly on 0300 303 0157 or the 24/7 national helpline on 0808 1689 111.
If you have been assaulted or sexually assaulted and do not want the police involved, please contact the Bridgeway Sexual Assault Referral Center directly on 0808 1186432.
Officers advise anyone considering this type of offense to seek help from someone they trust – or contact support agencies such as the Samaritans and the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, a charity dedicated to the fight against sexual abuse of children.
Support agencies can also be found at www.cumbriatogether.com.