This report is written with a Scottish audience in mind, but our conclusions are potentially relevant to changing police practices around the world. COVID-19 and the government response to it have given rise to a small number of novel ‘targeted’ cybercrime attack vectors (largely centred around messaging and tracing). They have additionally given a COVID-spin to classic scams and vulnerabilities, and are causing a rise in ‘volume’ cybercrime through more general transformations to the rhythms of people’s daily routines as patterns of work, leisure and study have changed as a result of lockdown and social distancing. Paradoxically, greater use of Internet technologies following this global pandemic will lead to an increasing localisation of many aspects of cyber-risk. While investigation is rightly handled by law enforcement agencies and cyber security is now a shared undertaking by government, law enforcement, businesses, organisations and individuals, the COVID-19 crisis has revealed a potential role for local or territorial police forces such as Police Scotland to take leadership in preventative responses to future rises in ‘volume’ cybercrime, drawing on their unique strengths and capacities to deliver crime prevention at the local level, including engaging with potential victims and offenders. With indications of the increased localism of much cybercrime, there is an increasing demand for the knowledge, skills, and community connections of frontline police officers in cybercrime policing and crime prevention. These officers are uniquely well-placed to meet the challenges of cyber-policing which are arising as a result of the current pandemic.


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Horgan, S., Collier, B., Jones, R. & Shepherd, L. 2020, The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for cybercrime policing in Scotland: A rapid review of the evidence and future considerations, Scottish Institute for Policing Research. Available at: http://researchrepository.napier.ac.uk/Output/2678757

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Last updated: 17 June 2022
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