Police Scotland unveils cybercrime hub

Police Scotland has unveiled plans for a £1.5 million facility to tackle cybercrime, to be based at an undisclosed location in or near Edinburgh.

It is the first of three facilities that will eventually be created in Scotland, and is set to increase the police force’s capacity to examine electronic devices by 15-20 per cent when it opens in October.

Police Scotland recently revealed that demand for examinations of electronic devices had jumped 47 per cent in the past two years.

The force is now processing 12,000 phones a year and has handled 1,500 computer cases, some involving multiple PCs or laptops.

Around 65 per cent of Police Scotland’s examination of electronic devices is concerned with investigations into indecent images of children.

Deputy chief constable Iain Livingstone (pictured) told The Herald: “Increasingly people are living their lives online and therefore policing needs to be there as well. We need to have the capability to analyse things and bring people to justice.

“We are building capacity that will protect the communities of Scotland. This will mean local officers across Scotland will have access to specialist advice from our national unit.

“Nearly every crime now has some element of cyber attached to it. Everybody has mobile devices, computers, laptops.

“So if we are investigating online child exploitation or organised crime, or assaults or homicides, there is often a cyber element.”

The Scottish Police Authority watchdog approved the funding for the scheme, despite the force facing £11 million of cuts in 2015-16.

SPA chairman Vic Emery said: “We all know the cyber threat is there so we need to invest in this as a strategic priority. It is never easy to find the money in an area where we are financially challenged consistently.

“It is about making a balance, so we can be more efficient.

“We are already investigating a lot of cyber activity but this is our first dedicated unit.”