Theresa May wants civilians to tackle cybercrime

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


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.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

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. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

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

Featured Resources

Report: The State of Software Security

This annual report explores important trends in software security

Download now

A fast guide to finding your cloud solution

One size doesn't fit all in the cloud, so how do you find the best option for your business?

Download now

Digitally perfecting the supply chain

How new technologies are being leveraged to transform the manufacturing supply chain

Download now

Small & Medium Business Trends Report

Insights from 2,000+ business owners and leaders worldwide

Download now


internet security

Avast and AVG extensions pulled from Chrome

19 Dec 2019

Google confirms Android cameras can be hijacked to spy on you

20 Nov 2019

Most Popular


How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi

5 Feb 2020

The top ten password-cracking techniques used by hackers

10 Feb 2020
Microsoft Windows

Windows 7 bug blocks users from shutting down their PCs

10 Feb 2020

Coronavirus starts to take its toll on the tech industry

6 Feb 2020