Digital policing

MQT on 2017-09-14
Session date: 
September 14, 2017
Question By: 
Unmesh Desai
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


A report released in August on digital policing by the think tank 'Reform' outlines how demand on policing has changed as crimes such as robbery and criminal damage have fallen over the past two decades whilst crimes with a digital element such as fraud and internet enabled child abuse have risen. Do the Metropolitan Police Service have the resources and skills to deal with the changing nature of crime?


Answer for Digital policing

Answer for Digital policing

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I recognise that the job of the police is changing dramatically and that the MPS must be supported and properly resourced to respond to both existing and new types of crime.  You are right that online crime has created a new and large demand on policing in London and around the country.  The internet has vastly increased the scale and speed of traditional offending. 


To start to address some of these challenges, in April I launched the Online Hate Crime Hub, the first of its kind in the UK, to help tackle online hate crime and improve support for victims across the capital.  The MPS has taken an important step in tackling this growing threat by establishing a Fraud and Linked Crime Online (Falcon) command to provide a dedicated response.


I have also recently appointed Theo Blackwell as the capital’s first ever Chief Digital Officer.  Theo will champion cyber‑security across London and develop a Cyber Security Strategy to better protect London’s digital infrastructure.


The MPS and National Crime Agency work to tackle online child sex abuse.  The response is delivered at a local level, as well as centrally for the most serious and complex investigations.  For example, the MPS runs a number of undercover operations online, engaging with predatory paedophiles, resulting in arrests, prosecutions and convictions.  The Government also needs to start thinking more about this area and how we tackle this type of crime, as do internet providers and social media companies who inadvertently facilitate some crime types. 


Unmesh Desai AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  Firstly, I welcome all those various initiatives.  My question to you is specifically about the work of the London Digital Security Centre, which was set up in 2015 and is funded by MOPAC with the purpose of helping small businesses to both manage and convict cybercrime.  There are 1 million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in London and they are often overlooked in this debate, and that is the reason why I am asking this question to you.  The thinking out there is that cybercrime basically affects big bodies such as banks and it is really the impact on SMEs that I am concerned about.  I know that there will be various initiatives at a conference in City Hall on 12 October 2017 with your Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, attending and which I hope to be at as well.  What challenges do you think the Centre has faced so far, how do you see its work progressing and what do you see coming out from this conference?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you for your question and thank you for being an advocate and fighter for small and medium‑sized businesses, Unmesh.


In addition to a new Chief Digital Officer, who will do some work around the Cyber Security Strategy which will help SMEs, I committed in my Police and Crime Plan to continue to support Operation Falcon as well as the London Digital Security Centre, which you referred to.  For those who do not know ‑ I know you do ‑ this is a private, academic and public-sector partnership which does deliver important advice to small businesses on cyber‑enabled crime.  Often small businesses do not have the resources to deal with this issue.  The mission is to help businesses to innovate and grow their operations in a secure digital environment.  Some of the conference will be taking experiences of small businesses and some of it will be providing practical advice to small businesses.  My view is that small businesses are most at risk because they have the least amount of resources to protect them from cyber criminals. 


Unmesh Desai AM:  Yes.  I am conscious of the time that I have left and so, Mr Mayor, I will just say that I met with John Unsworth [Chief Executive] of the Centre recently and I hope to work with him in the three London boroughs that I represent to trial their work with local councils. 


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Very good. 


Unmesh Desai AM:  Depending on the outcomes, we hope to share the lessons learned across London. 


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Great.  Thank you for that. 


Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman in the Chair):  Thank you very much.