Niall McNicholas, 20, has completed his apprenticeship with the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit in Cumbria Constabulary and has subsequently earned a full-time role within the department.
The Cyber and Digital Crime Unit, which is funded by Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, launched in May 2019. The department assists with investigations regarding all cyber matters ranging from fraud to online child grooming. Since it’s launch it has assisted with 156 cyber crimes and 78 investigations into online child sexual abuse and exploitation.
Niall’s new role involves: identifying and engaging with vulnerable people involved in cyber crime; steering young people away from cyber crime; helping residents, schools and businesses protect themselves; provide technical support during investigations; and contact every victim the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit comes in contact with and talks them through their crime, how and why it happened and how they can protect themselves against it in the future.
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “I am delighted that Niall has completed his apprenticeship so successfully and that his hard work has earned him a place within the unit.
“He has already made a significant contribution to improving cyber safety of residents and young people across the county.
“Technology is dynamic and advancing and criminals are continuously finding new ways to commit crimes online therefore it is imperative that the Police are equally dynamic in order to locate and bring these criminals, who prey on the vulnerable and often the elderly, to justice.
“Due to COVID-19, many of us have done our shopping and socialising online where we are more susceptible to scams so there has never been a more important time to have a cyber crime team within the police.
“The increase in council tax in 2019 funded the establishing of the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit, it is money well spent as it has helped protect a vulnerable adults and children from becoming victims.
“I would like to congratulate Niall on his successfully joining the team on a permanent basis, an achievement based on his own merit, hard work and skill – I look forward to seeing his career develop and with it our cyber capability to combat crime.”
Niall McNicholas said: “Working in the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit has opened my eyes to the real threat cyber crime has on our communities due to the lack of awareness around cyber security.
“This role has allowed me to give advice to the public and victims about simple security measures such as using secure passwords, two-factor authentication and how to spot phishing emails.
“I look forward to my career in the unit providing technical knowledge to pursue cyber criminals and providing advice to local business and communities on how to keep secure.”
Ian Harwood, Detective Inspector, said: “Niall has been fantastic addition since he joined our team on his apprenticeship placement.
“He has worked hard and brought some innovative ideas to how we better protect people online and how we can use technology to our advantage during investigations.
“Niall has developed so much during his time with us and his strengths lie in his interactions with victims of cybercrime, providing them with good simple advice whilst providing them with reassurance for the future.
“I am confident Niall will be a great asset to the Constabulary and will provide a first-class service to the communities of Cumbria.”