Culture, Media and Sport CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by the Police Federation of England and Wales

The Police Federation of England and Wales welcomes the review that has been commenced by The Culture, Media and Sports Committee.

1. We believe that the education of individuals and communities to the threats and dangers posed from the on line world is essential in minimising harm and preventing crime. We are of the view that the educational process should commence at an appropriate age and that this should be a continued theme throughout a young person’s learning. It is essential that young people understand the vulnerabilities and threats posed to their personal safety, lifelong reputation and wellbeing. We also believe that it is important to encourage responsibility and understanding of the consequence of the misuse of the on line world and rapidly changing technologies.

2. We support a coordinated approach from key public, private and voluntary stakeholders to educate the wider public with the continued risk from those who seek to exploit the misuse of online safety. We believe that a coordinated approach from all partners is vital and that this should be subject of continued review, scrutiny and reporting.

3. We believe that service providers of internet services have a significant responsibility for the on line safety of users.

4. We believe that a joined up approach to internet security should be encouraged and that internet service providers should incorporate full internet security in to their products. A number of companies provide this industry and consumer leading protection package for customers. We believe this could increase security and minimise harm if adopted by all internet service providers.

5. We believe that internet service providers must report to Parliament and the wider community on their actions to minimise the harm from those that seek to misuse on line services. Such an open and transparent mechanism would empower consumers to make an informed decision on whether to use such providers.

6. We support the empowerment of parents, responsible adults and others to prevent and minimise access to inappropriate materials by young persons and others. An industry standard system that blocks access to adult services, explicit pornography and harmful materials should be available all consumers. We believe that this responsibility rests firmly with internet service providers. A failure to develop such a system should in our view require further scrutiny by Parliament and if necessary a legislative framework.

7. We believe that social media providers must provide a timely mechanism for users to report misuse. This will enable those that are being subject to misuse a method to control and stop those who intend to cause harm and distress. We believe it would be helpful for internet service providers to provide support and guidance on their websites for consumers who may require help in dealing with those that misuse on line services.

8. We fully support and encourage closer working relationships between law enforcement agencies, the on line industry and the wider community. These relationships must continue to develop to understand opportunities, weaknesses and threats that may develop with the rapid expansion of technologies.

9. Law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders must be supplied with appropriate resources to minimise the threat from those who would exploit and misuse on line services. It is fair to acknowledge that policing must continually invest in the training and equipping members of staff with the tools to recognise and investigate on line misuse. Without appropriate levels of investment, training and equipping in technologies, the threat of harm and risk will expand. A joined up strategy should be developed by the College of Policing and other key stakeholders to allow the police service and others to maximise resources, understanding and training.

10. It will be important for key stakeholders to recognise threats, weaknesses and opportunities ensuring self-regulation and legislative opportunities are maximised to protect our communities. The sharing of best practice and emerging threats must be a key priority for all, this must be a joined up and coordinated process.

11. A thorough understanding of offending is essential in minimising harm, educating communities and recognising opportunities. The current National Crime Recording Standards in our view fail to record the real number of victims and scale of on line crime. We fully support a review of National Crime Recording Standards to ensure the level of threat is understood, appropriate resources are allocated and threat management is maximised. We are also of the view that there is reluctance from some quarters to report fraud due to possible reputational issues. This is particularly applicable to the finance industry and must be overcome.

12. We believe that criminality has recognised the opportunity to migrate offending to on line services and that offending will continue to exploit such opportunities. The legislative framework to manage offending behaviour that is applied by the criminal justice system should be reviewed to ensure sufficient deterrent and sanctions can be applied.

September 2013

Prepared 18th March 2014