“What works?”: linking evidence-based policing and cybercrime.

The omnipresence of technology and its globalization has changed not only the way we act and interact with each other but also the way we commit crimes. Indeed, the global accessibility of the internet, offers numerous opportunities for committing a criminal offense. This article focuses on cybercrime such as child pornography, fraud or computer hacking.

Law enforcement does not appear to respond adequately to the increase in these crimes. Hundreds of thousands of cases are not reported to the police. For example, in the United Kingdom, only 150 incidents are reported out of 1 million cybercrime-related offenses (Wall, 2002). This low rate of denunciation demonstrates the serious shortcomings of police institutions in responding to this type of offense, or at least that the population does not perceive the police as being able to come to their aid.

This issue leads the researchers, Jacek Koziarski and Jin Ree Lee, to use an evidence-based policing approach to determine “What works” in police interventions. The goal is to improve the rate of resolution of cyber crimes, and therefore, increase the rate of denunciation among the population. Therefore, they propose linking cybercrime and the evidence-based approach to develop and expand knowledge of the factors associated with cybercrimes. The approach, known as “Evidence-based policing” (EBP), connects both police and civilians working for law enforcement agencies as well as scientific researchers to create and review best practices. In this type of approach, practical cases are used as examples of good and bad moves, with the aim of continually improving the procedures used and expanding knowledge.

The researchers analyzed three cybercrime cases: Amanda Todd’s extortion, Ashley Madison’s hack, and the 2013 target data breach. They were specifically chosen due to their popularity in the media, the emotional backlash, and the number of victims affected. The aim of this method is to examine the multiple challenges that have been associated with national and international law enforcement agencies in solving these crimes. According to the authors, the contribution of research and practitioners in the analysis of the police response to cybercrimes can have a positive impact on the capacity and legitimacy of law enforcement agencies to respond to crimes, and that to do so, it is suitable to use EBP.

The results of their case analysis indicate that EBP can significantly improve the response of law enforcement agencies to computer crimes. Particularly, it allows law enforcement to be more efficient in handling complaints. A better understanding of a crime and the best practices to use in certain situations allow faster targeting and monopolization of the resources necessary to resolve cases. This benefits both the institutions and the victims.

This article demonstrates the effectiveness of the evidence-based approach to cybercrime. This method allows a better response from the police for service calls, better police resources management, and improves the essential relationship between the population and police services. Such an approach is relevant to law enforcement, cybersecurity experts, and researchers who want to find the best methods to apply.

To cite: Koziarski, J. and Lee, J.R. (2020), « Connecting evidence-based policing and cybercrime », Policing; An International Journal, Vol. 43 No. 1, pp. 198-211.

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