Update by Inspector Declan Cahill
The committee received a verbal update from Chief Inspector Cahill of South Wales Police in relation to cyber-crime.
Chief Inspector Cahill informed the committee that cyber crime was a difficult area to address currently. Chief Inspector Cahill reported that 188 cyber related crimes had taken place in Neath Port Talbot between August 2017 and July 2018, and that 316 incidents had been reported to Trading Standards. Chief Inspector Cahill stated that an officer had been especially appointed to educate parents on the dangers of cyber crime and to raise awareness. Chief Inspector Cahill stated that the officer was responsible for meeting with victims and following up within three to six months to ensure that they had put the advice received into practice and were being vigilant while online. Chief Inspector Cahill explained that the Police were trying to raise awareness of the risks by targeting parents and students. Chief Inspector Cahill informed members that an awareness campaign was planned for Black Friday utilising social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Inspector Cahill stated that two officers were currently covering Neath Port Talbot and Swansea and dealing with cyber crime by going to care homes and supported housing to educate elderly citizens. Chief Inspector Cahill informed the committee that a lot of work was taking place to address the issue of cyber crime.
Members commented that it was important that the Authority worked with the Police to push their messages to a wider audience via the Council’s own communication channels. Chief Inspector Cahill explained that Operation Signature was working in partnership with all responsible authorities to circulate and distribute these messages as far possible.
Members queried whether fraud was the main issue in relation to cyber crime. Chief Inspector Cahill explained that bullying and online grooming were also key issues as well as fraud. Officers explained that cyber crime was going to be one of the Community Safety Partnership’s main priorities for the coming year. Officers added that the focus was on putting preventative measures in place, because once the crime had been committed it was difficult to track down the perpetrators as many operated from different countries from around the world.
Members questioned whether there had been any successful enforcements following online fraud. Chief Inspector Cahill explained that it was difficult to tell as online fraud was dealt with by banks and Action Fraud. Chief Inspector Cahill added that the Police did have officers that investigated online paedophile rings, but it could take years to build up robust cases for these crimes and to identify individual perpetrators.
Members commented that the nature of the different types of cyber crimes being committed cross cut many areas of public services. Members queried how joined up were the services in responding to cyber crime. Chief Inspector Cahill explained that work was in progress to ensure that there was a more joined up approach from partners to cyber crime. Chief Inspector Cahill stated that the Police were working with the banks and were working with schools and the Education Directorate in the Council,
Members questioned whether the Police were engaging locally with administrators of social media sites regarding racially motivated comments on their forums. Chief Inspector Cahill explained that the Police monitor Facebook and Twitter sites but did not have the power to remove content; however the Police would make contact with any individual who committed a hate crime and possibly take action where necessary. Members queried whether closed groups were monitored. Chief Inspector confirmed that the Police did monitor closed groups.
Members commented that they would be prepared to assist the Police by placing any messages on cyber crime in the newsletters to the electorate and by re-tweeting or forwarding any messages from the Police on cyber crime on their individual accounts.
Members queried whether the Police could trace perpetrators IP addresses. Chief Inspector Cahill stated that this was within the Police’s ability.
Following scrutiny, the committee noted the update from Chief Inspector Cahill.