Cybercrime prosecutions fall as under-resourced police struggle with increasingly complex threat


Only 57 prosecutions under Computer Misuse Act last year

UK prosecutions for cybercrime fell last year as under-resourced police struggle to get to grips with the growing threat from cyber-criminals, says City-headquartered law firm, RPC.

RPC says that there were only 57 prosecutions under the Computer Misuse Act last year, down from 61 in 2015, the first time prosecutions under the Act have fallen this decade (see graph below). This fall comes despite the UK experiencing 1.9m computer misuse crimes in 2016. 

RPC says that the fall in prosecutions reflects the difficulty enforcement agencies face in tackling the growing threat of cybercrime, which is compounded by the relative lack of resources given to cybercrime investigation. The UK only has around 250 specialist cybercrime police officers.

Use of encryption and proxy servers now make it enormously challenging for the police to track the perpetrators of cybercrime, or to reliably locate where in the UK – or even overseas – they are operating from.

With many cyber-criminals active in the UK being based overseas – often in jurisdictions such as Russia or the Baltic states – it would be virtually impossible for police in the UK to secure prosecutions against these individuals, even if they were able to locate and identify them.

RPC says that this makes it vital that businesses have robust and comprehensive cyber insurance policies in place, to mitigate the potentially significant costs of a cyber attack, whether that results in the loss of critical data, customer details or other sensitive material.