Local policing must adapt to cybercrime in the post-pandemic era

Ben Collier, Shane Horgan, Richard Jones, Lynsay Shepherd

Research output: Non-textual formWeb publication/site


In a recent briefing paper on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for cybercrime policing in Scotland commissioned by the Scottish Institute for Policing, we identified a range of ways in which cybercrime has been adapting in recent months. Online fraudsters are exploiting people’s fear and uncertainty during the outbreak, often simply lending a virus ‘flavour’ to their existing scams, but in some cases through novel opportunities created by lockdown and tracing. The wider challenge for police forces, including in Scotland, lies in the possibility that the pandemic leads to profound and lasting changes to people’s everyday activities. We outlined reasons why these changes could lead to an increase in cybercrime, and argued that whereas much cybercrime research has (rightly) emphasised its international or even global characteristics, certain forms of cybercrime, especially of the more rudimentary (but no less harmful) kind, often have a distinctively ‘local quality’. We concluded by arguing that this presents both a challenge and an opportunity for regional police forces such as Police Scotland: if cybercrime becomes more prevalent over the coming years police forces will need to develop further their capacity to prevent and investigate such offences; yet the local nature of such crime will mean that local forces will be very well positioned to respond. Working with, rather than on communities will be key to the effectiveness of this response.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherUniversity of Edinburgh
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2020


  • Covid-19
  • Cybercrime
  • Cybersecurity
  • Policing


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