PSNI's new £4.3m centre to fight growing problem of cyber crime
The PSNI has launched a £4.3m state-of-the-art facility in Belfast to combat the increasing challenge of cyber crime.
The new centre was officially opened yesterday by Chief Constable George Hamilton and was hailed by Detective Superintendent Richard Campbell as "without doubt, one of the best facilities in the United Kingdom or Ireland".
First conceived back in 2011, the centre in south Belfast replaces the old Knocknagoney site.
With the significant increase in the usage of mobile devices within criminality, the previous site was described as "not sustainable or fit for purpose".
The new ultra-modern office houses 35 officers and wider support staff within the main cyber crime division, overseeing everything from the recovery of footage on a mobile phone to specialist investigations into large-scale corporate hacks.
The PSNI has formed four new specific cyber support units which will have 16 officers each based at sites in Belfast, Londonderry, Portadown and Newtownabbey.
These cyber support units include officers trained in the most advanced techniques of data recovery, with the ability to remove the microchips from damaged or corrupted mobile phones and recover everything from phone calls made to websites visited.
DS Campbell said: "We are faced with an ever-increasing demand in relation to cyber crime. Within the Cyber Crime Centre, as of today in relation to the mobile phones we examine, we have seen an increase of 160% in relation to where we were last year."
This year well over 2,000 mobile devices and over 8,000 CCTV systems were examined.
He added: "It used to be the case that where our trained search officers were involved in a house search for any type of criminality or offending, they were faced with having to seize every device in the house.
"The period of time this takes is significant.
"We have rolled out a new front line triage capability to our search operators that allows them to do a search of computers as part of their search on sight and screen out devices we are able to say with a fair degree of confidence that don't have anything we are looking for".