IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Theresa May wants civilians to tackle cybercrime

IT workers could help the police solve cybercrimes, under new Home Office proposals

Police

Home Secretary Theresa May wants to sign up private citizens as volunteers to help police tackle digital crime, allowing forces to identify IT specialists who have the necessary expertise.

She said: "We want to help forces to create a more flexible workforce, bring in new skills and free up officers' time to focus on the jobs only they can carry out.

"At the same time, we want to encourage those with skills in particular demand, such as those with specialist IT or accountancy skills, to work alongside police officers to investigate cyber or financial crime, and help officers and staff fight crime more widely."

However, the trade union Unison, which represents public sector workers, accused May of trying to recruit citizens to fill gaps in police forces affected by cuts.

A spokeswoman said in a statement: "The government is clearly pinning its hopes on a volunteer army to plug the huge gap left by the loss of so many dedicated and skilled police staff.

"Volunteers cannot be deployed to tackle serious crime in the middle of the night, and they are free to absent themselves from the workplace at any time, because they have no contract of employment. This makes volunteers totally unsuitable for police forces that need to know they can turn out staff in an emergency."

In the proposals, the Home Office confirmed citizens could play a greater role in crime investigations "as their experience grows".

But security firm Digital Guardian said the government's plans overlook a gap in expertise that already exists in cybersecurity, a problem which has been recognised by Chancellor George Osborne.

Thomas Fischer, principal threat researcher, said: "The announcement implies there are large quantities of trained infosec personnel out there that are willing and able to help for free, which simply isn't the case. For many years the infosecurity industry has faced a recruitment drought. As a result, individuals that do meet the required training standards are highly sought after assets, likely to be in well-paid positions, with very little time to do volunteer work on the side."

The plans were first revealed in a consultation document released last September, but the government has not yet said which of the proposals it will carry out. 

There are around 16,000 volunteer police officers, called Special Constables, in England and Wales.

Featured Resources

Accelerating AI modernisation with data infrastructure

Generate business value from your AI initiatives

Free Download

Recommendations for managing AI risks

Integrate your external AI tool findings into your broader security programs

Free Download

Modernise your legacy databases in the cloud

An introduction to cloud databases

Free Download

Powering through to innovation

IT agility drive digital transformation

Free Download

Recommended

Protecting healthcare from cybercrime
Whitepaper

Protecting healthcare from cybercrime

25 May 2022
The truth about cyber security training
Whitepaper

The truth about cyber security training

25 Apr 2022
The truth about cyber security training
Whitepaper

The truth about cyber security training

25 Apr 2022
The Total Economic Impact™ of Mimecast
Whitepaper

The Total Economic Impact™ of Mimecast

25 Apr 2022

Most Popular

Salaries for the least popular programming languages surge as much as 44%
Development

Salaries for the least popular programming languages surge as much as 44%

23 Jun 2022
Attracting and retaining talent through training
Sponsored

Attracting and retaining talent through training

13 Jun 2022
The top programming languages you need to learn for 2022
Careers & training

The top programming languages you need to learn for 2022

23 Jun 2022