National Roll out for University Cybercrime Awareness Clinics 

Cybercrime Awareness

The university is setting up clinics across the country to raise awareness of cybercrime, with support from the National Cyber Security Centre

  • 15 January 2020
  • 3 min read

The University of Portsmouth is setting up clinics across the country to raise awareness of cybercrime, with support from the National Cyber Security Centre.

The Cybercrime Awareness Clinics are the result of a two-year project at the University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, which has led to innovative research that provides answers to important questions about a growing national threat.  It has identified an understanding of who, where and when to target those at risk of cybercrime.

Cybercrime is increasingly part of our public consciousness.

Ben Snuggs, Assistant Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary

The research had three aims:

  • To provide advice to vulnerable groups in the local area, such as young people, small/medium size organisations and older people.
  • To increase the knowledge of the cybercrime threats and risk to these vulnerable groups and assist the police in tailoring their responses to different forms of cybercrime.
  • To develop a transferable model for the implementation of Cybercrime Awareness Clinics across the UK and beyond.

The research was funded by Hampshire Constabulary.  Ben Snuggs, Assistant Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary, believes the awareness clinics are crucial. He says: “Cybercrime is increasingly part of our public consciousness.  But the opportunities enabled by greater digital connectivity also create risks, and the level of awareness of those risks is not always clearly articulated or understood.”

One of the most impressive aspects of the programme was its wide engagement with external stakeholders and experts in the field.

Professor Donald Nicholson OBE, University of Essex

Thanks to the clinic these vulnerable people and groups have now got a much greater awareness of cybercrime.  In the early stages of the project, the clinic team focused on developing a network of partners including Hampshire Constabulary, public and private sector organisations, charities and NGOs and schools and colleges. With their support, they were able to create and deliver a range of tailored cybercrime awareness sessions to local community groups, organisations and educational establishments. These sessions included presentations, general talks and workshops, as well as one-to-one meetings. The clinic team also developed a webpage, which incorporated a comprehensive list of cybercrime awareness and victim support resources. 

Professor Donald Nicholson OBE from the University of Essex was an independent reviewer of the project. In his words: “One of the most impressive aspects of the programme was its wide engagement with external stakeholders and experts in the field. This helped ensure that the project would meet the needs of the local community in the best possible way.”

Becoming more secure online and having a ‘healthier’ virtual presence is a task that requires a grassroots, multi-faceted effort.

Dr Vasileios Karagiannopoulos,, Director of the Cybercrime Awareness Clinic, University of Portsmouth

After assessment by NCSC, which is a part of GCHQ and the UK’s technical authority on cyber, the project will now receive national funding to be used across the UK to help enhance business cybersecurity.

The NCSC is supporting the university to deliver its objectives, as well as helping to identify suitable partners for the project.

Dr Vasileios Karagiannopoulos, Director of the Cybercrime Awareness Clinic, highlights: “Becoming more secure online and having a ‘healthier’ virtual presence is a task that requires a grassroots, multi-faceted effort.  Building such a bottom-up network has been an intrinsic element of this project from its inception and will continue to be in all its future work.  It is our hope that our example will inspire similar initiatives in order to create a national cyberawareness network that can work on a local, regional and national level in order to provide training, inform policing and even shape government policy on issues of online harm and risks.”

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