Cybercrime

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th April 2016.

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Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Shadow Minister (Education) 12:00 am, 11th April 2016

What assessment she has made of recent trends in the level of cybercrime.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

While overall crime has fallen by more than a quarter since 2010, it is also changing, as the hon. Gentleman knows. An accurate national picture is critical to informing our response to cybercrime, which is why the Office for National Statistics has now published, for the first time, initial estimates of the number of cybercrimes committed, based on a preliminary field trial. The ONS estimates that there are 2.5 million incidents of computer-misuse crime per year.

Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Shadow Minister (Education)

The Office for National Statistics estimates that there were some 5.1 million incidents involving such crimes last year, which adds about 40% to the baseline figure for crime in the UK. Will the Minister accept that crime appears to be going up, rather than down?

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

I think crime is changing. The hon. Gentleman is right that this is about skills, which is why we established the National Cyber Crime Unit in the National Crime Agency, and resources, which is why we have put £1.9 billion into this area of work. However, the issue is also about recognising that many such crimes can be prevented through straightforward good practice by citizens.

I think—I know you do too, Mr Speaker—that questions should always have a purpose beyond challenging the Government and should actually deliver positive results for Members. Following the hon. Gentleman’s question, I will write to him and to the whole House with details of how he can advise businesses in Scunthorpe and his constituents on how to stop these kinds of cybercrimes.

Photo of Ben Howlett Ben Howlett Conservative, Bath

The west of England is leading the way in tackling cybercrime following the £1.9 billion investment announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor last year. Given the atrocities in Brussels last month, will the Minister update the House on how he is working with our allies to tackle cybercrime?

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

What is critical in tackling cybercrime is the partnership between the private and public sectors, which is why the Home Secretary launched a joint taskforce to look at how allies, comrades, friends and others can work together to tackle this issue. It is also important to emphasise that GCHQ states that 80% of such crimes can be prevented by the straightforward good practice that I identified earlier, which is precisely why I take the matter so seriously and why public information is at the heart of what we do.

Photo of Jack Dromey Jack Dromey Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

For five years, the Government’s alibi has been, “We cut police, but we cut crime.” The Police Minister has told Sky that citizens are more likely to have a crime perpetrated against them online on their computers while they are asleep than in the street. With cybercrime statistics set nearly to double the national crime rate, will the Minister finally admit that, far from the alibi of the past five years being the case, crime is not falling? Crime is changing and the truth is that crime is rising.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

It is always unfortunate when a shadow Minister prepares a question in advance and does not listen to what has been said immediately beforehand. I said in my first answer that crime is changing. It is falling, but it is also changing and because it is changing we need the additional skills, resources and approaches that I described to Nic Dakin.

Given that Jack Dromey made a bit of a hash of his question, I want to help him as much as I can: I refer him to the two sets of guidance that we have just published, which I will happily furnish him with following questions.