Cyber crime could change the face of policing by 2022, says senior officer

The rise in cyber crime could result in a change to the fundamental fabric of the police force as early as 2022, according to a senior officer.

Policing may need to consider a re-balancing away from the traditional approach and invest more in research and innovative technology if it is to keep pace with cybercriminals, Gloucestershire Police assistant chief constable Richard Berry, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for communications data, told delegates at IFSEC recently.

“Organisations and leaders must be agile,” he said. “Organisations thrive on stability and not upsetting the status quo, but to move with constant technological advancement how can we embed disruption in policing to keep people safe.

“What kind of normative policing service do we want to deliver in 2022 – will it be different from today?”

Sir Robert Peel’s 1829 principles of policing

Berry reminded the audience of Sir Robert Peel’s 1829 principles of policing, which state: “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them”.

This means forces must stay ahead of cybercriminals, rather than react to them, if they wish to effectively fight crime.

“Demand for data-centric investigation will rise in policing.” Gloucestershire Police assistant chief constable Richard Berry

“Demand for data-centric investigation will rise in policing. Will the police have the people, skills and knowledge to keep pace?”

The police needs “conceptual leaders who are prepared for black skies and black swan events,” he said.

Popularised by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a black swan event has an enormous impact but is unforeseen, having not been predictable based on previous events, and yet is explained retrospectively by experts as if it should have been predictable in hindsight.

One suggestion Berry posited was to have more cyber specialists and make use of cyber volunteers. These could provide a range of assistance such as taking part in investigations, up-skilling the workforce and providing live tactical advice.

“There is absolutely no shortage of people who will give up their time to protect their communities,” he said.

He also pondered the role that AI might play in the future of policing. AI could help mitigate against officers making poor decisions because of stress and fatigue, he suggested.