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shift within his profession, accelerated by the pandemic. He presented the strategy at a Scottish Police Authority (SPA) meeting in September, and its contents were approved by board members, with a stipulation that he come back by the end of the year with a clearer focus on how the 58-page document was to be implemented. Graham says the title – Keep-


ing people safe in the digital world – was one the force “wrestled with”, as it sets out to demonstrate a commitment to serving the public differently to how it has done in the past. In that sense, he says, the plan has to be backed up with the digital capabilities really to deliver on the new frontline, where everyday criminality ranges from threats of harm on Facebook to international drugs smuggling and organised crime on the dark web.


“Te main thrust of the strat-


egy is about the development that we need as an organisation to tackle digital threats,” he says. “It’s focused on the operational changes that we need to make as well as organisationally – work- ing in partnership in different ways – but it’s really about that service offering to the public because of where they are now living their lives.” He adds: “And that’s the bit I


wanted to get across [in the SPA meeting]: that the world is mov- ing so quickly and has moved so much that it might not be immediately visible in the way that some other crimes are – and some people may not have kept up – but actually this is the real- ity of what we’re dealing with in terms of the increased threat, because of the way that vulner- able people are targeted, children are being abused online, and increases in fraud.”


The strategy itself recognises the limitations of policing, given the underreporting of online criminality; however, it focuses on four domains as it pushes into what the force describes as ‘un- charted territory’. Tose are: its own resilience and ability to re- spond to shifting threats, public


Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, who is overseeing Police Scotland’s new cyber strategy


Covid-19, in which there has been a demand on officers to be more visible in public places enforcing a raft of new regula- tions, has also borne down on costs. Graham says: “We’ve had to cut back on some of the work that we’ve done over the last six months because of Covid. We’ve had to deal with other internal issues that everyone’s had to deal with around safety and distanc- ing. And we’ve had to make sure that we’ve maintained, in fact we’ve actually increased, public confidence in policing in Scotland during the period of the pandemic. But this is one piece of work that I really wanted to push on with and accelerate because the evidence of the last six months is that these threats have increased.” Not only have they increased,


but “Criminals are exploiting new technologies at an ever- increasing pace, and a growing number of traditional crimes now also feature a digital ele- ment,” according to the strategy. I suggest to Graham that polic-


health, prevention and partner- ship, investigation of criminality and protecting and safeguarding. It is an ambitious and far-reach- ing document, yet its success will be dependent on the resourcing implications of an already tight- ening fiscal landscape. Graham was joined in the


SPA meeting by his financial colleagues, who outlined the difficulties of realising the full extent of existing modernisation programmes. David Page, Deputy Chief Officer, highlighted how the force had asked for £74m this year but had received £55m, adding: “We can only move at the pace which we’re given the ability to move at.” His remarks were in the broader context of funding Police Scotland’s capital expenditure re- quirements, of which the Digital, Data & ICT (DDICT) strategy of 2018 is a part. And he reassured board members that much of the cyber vision will come from that pot, rather than a new one. However, the implication was clear and the response to


“Te main thrust of the strategy is about the development that we need as an organisation to tackle digital threats” Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham


ing may need to have greater vis- ibility in the virtual world, much as it does on the streets; cur- rently, people can report certain crimes online, but largely are pushed towards the traditional routes. Would having virtual police stations on Facebook, with named officers providing a local presence similar to a traditional ‘Beat Bobby’, be a good addition to community policing?


Graham acknowledges that it is something the force is “actively looking at” and that there is a plan in the making. He says: “A digital contact strategy is the means by which we’re going to open up different channels for people to communicate and report different types of crime online. Tis will come into public domain through an SPA board in the near future.” He adds: “Our offering in the


future will be need to be broader, and people would expect that. We’ve done a lot of work to gauge public appetite and to make sure that it’s inclusive. Because there


Continued on Page 44 FUTURESCOT | WINTER 2020/21 | 43


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