Cyber crime is on the up and is now included in official crime figures. There were 3.6 million fraud and 2 million computer misuse offences in the 12 months to September 2016, according to the latest Crime Survey for England and Wales.
This is the first time statistics for the full year were included in the report, but the figures are in line with the estimates of 3.8 million fraud and 2 million computer misuse offences included in a report covering the 12 months to March 2016.
The inclusion of these offences yields a new headline estimate of 11.8 million incidents of crime covered by the survey, but it will be another year before a year-on-year comparison can be made, according to the report by the by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
However, the report said trend data on frauds referred to the police showed an annual rise of 3%, while other industry data on financial fraud, the vast bulk of which is unreported to the police, showed there were 1.9 million cases of frauds on UK-issued cards, representing an increase of 39% from year before.
“In the past, burglary and theft of vehicles were the high-volume crimes driving trends, but their numbers have fallen substantially since then,” said John Flatley, ONS statistician.
He said when the crime survey started 35 years ago, fraud was not considered a significant threat and the internet had yet to be invented.
“Today’s figures demonstrate how crime has changed, with fraud now the most commonly experienced offence,” he added.
Rob Cotton, CEO at security firm NCC Group, welcomed the fact that cyber crime will now be included in official crime figures.
“This type of activity poses a huge threat to both businesses and consumers alike, but without accurate data it’s difficult to grasp the real scale of the problem,” he said.
However, Cotton said there is still the need to guard against complacency, saying it is unrealistic to expect the police to provide complete protection.
“It’s up to the private sector to be proactive in prioritising cyber defences and consumers must educate themselves on the risks too. If this doesn’t happen then the figures will no doubt rise every year,” he said.
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