Cumbria Constabulary have introduced four new Digital Media Investigators (DMI) in to their Command and Control Room (CCR). The CCR is the main hub in Cumbria where all 999 and 101 calls land, where trained and expert police officers handle all calls and dispatch the appropriate response. The DMIs joined the CCR early December and are providing 24/7 support such as live time investigating requiring specialist cyber and social media skills.
As well as assisting with missing persons, the DMIs also: provide support and advice to officers attending incidents; investigate and give intelligence around crimes as they are in action; provide intelligence research outside of office hours; and proactively monitor Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras to identify known criminals or suspicious activities on the roads of Cumbria.
The specialist trained officers are funded through the rise in council tax 2019/20 which was introduced by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria, Peter McCall. The tax will also pay for another four DMIs in the CCR with their training beginning in early 2020.
These extra officers have been provided with specialist training that gives them access to more in-depth information such as the ability to access the social media accounts, including Snapchat and Whatsapp, of missing persons to help discover information that may point to their whereabouts.
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “Raising council tax is always a hard decision to make but I made it knowing that I would be able to provide extra officers for the force including these four, soon-to-be eight, Digital Media Investigators.
“Our lives are quickly moving online – from social media to online banking – and criminals know that they can target people through these mediums. We need officers to be well equipped in dealing with this type of crime as well as have the skillset to use social media to our advantage to help vulnerable victims.
“These officers will be a fantastic asset to both the Constabulary and the public.
“The DMIs can provide initial advice to victims of cyber-crime on how to best preserve evidence for police use and how to better protect themselves online.
“I would urge anyone that believes they are being targeted online to contact the police on 101 and report any suspicious contact or emails.”
Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery said: “These specialist officers will help in what is becoming a busier and more demanding area of policing.
“One of the challenges in policing is keeping up with changing trends in crime and in society.
“Criminals will exploit any new method available to commit their offences and everyday life increasingly features the use of digital devices and social media.
“This investment helps us stay ahead of criminals and gives us extra skills to keep people safe.”
Chief Inspector, Gaynor Wardle, said: “More and more frequently we are seeing a digital element in crimes that are being reported to us.
“These officers are here in the control room where they can give specialist advice.
“This can include investigating social media in a missing person case and preserving digital evidence in a fraud report.
“These officers have not been here long but they are already proving a great asset and are helping investigations in live time as we receive the call.
“In this day and age almost all of us could become a victim of digital crime so these officers will prove invaluable in our work to solve and deter offences and keep people safe.”