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Is your money safer under your mattress? Cybercrime now most common crime in the UK.

Posted on 27/10/2015 by Chloe Evans


The topic on everyone’s lips this week seems to be in relevance to Cybercrime becoming Britain’s most common criminal offence. This interests yet rightfully concerns me.

For the first time ever the Office of National Statistics have included Cybercrime and online fraud in their statistics, which saw crime in England and Wales raise by 107%. It is unbelievable really, that ONS has never before included these findings in their statistics, considering cybercrime has been present for such a long period of time.

With the help of my friend Google, I discovered that the first cyber ‘criminal offence’ took place all the way back in 1820 in France ( A little ridiculous to think, as this would be nothing like cybercrime as we know it today. But with more relevance the first spam email was sent in 1978 and the first virus was installed on an Apple computer in 1982.

The research demonstrated that there were 5.1 million incidents of cyber fraud within the last 12 months in England and Wales alone. Therefore given this evidence we now know that cybercrime is the most common form of crime with the UK. There was also an estimated 2.5 million incidents which fall under the computer misuse act, including phishing scams and malware, with virus attacks noted as the most common incident.

Although it is actually estimated that the figure was more than 7 million incidents, because often these attacks were blocked by anti-virus protection and were not experienced as a crime by the victim, the statisticians said they had an open mind to include them.

So given the growing awareness of cybercrime in recent years, why has it taken this long to include cybercrime in the annual crime survey? 

Joe Traynor of ONS gave some insight on this to SC Magazine earlier this week, saying: “Since taking over responsibility for the crime statistics in April 2012, ONS has been working to improve their coverage and developing and testing questions on fraud and cybercrime over the last 12 months”. He added that there is a range of complex issues surrounding the recording of cybercrimes. “For example, with traditional crimes it is generally easy to identify and recall the number of separate incidents and therefore estimate them accurately. Fraud and cybercrime raises difficult issues such as whether or not you include attempts to commit crime as crimes (as we do for traditional crimes)."

And of course one of the most traditional problems with recording cybercrime is that often people are simply not aware it has happened to them, therefore the crime is not reported and will not be present in police statistics.

With this in mind maybe our great grandparents were right all along and it is indeed safer to keep our money under the mattress…