WEST Mercia Police has been praised by a leading officer for being alert to the growing threat of cyber crime.

Superintendent Pete O’Doherty, the head of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, has welcomed the force's major cyber crime conference and workshop to increase public awareness and to develop partnership working to tackle internet fraudsters.

The conference is being hosted by Coventry University on Friday (May 23) and is sponsored by Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball.

Supt O’Doherty said: “This is the kind of initiative which in the long run will help us win the battle against cyber criminals. From what I see day in day out, cyber crime is rapidly increasing, both in volume and in complexity. It is evolving at a rapid pace.”

Supt O’Doherty said up to 70 per cent of frauds can be cyber-enabled compared to around 40 per cent five or so years ago.

He added: “Cyber fraud has been described as the modern-day burglary because you don’t have to be in someone’s home to steal from them. Fraudsters can strike from anywhere in the world. It’s a global threat.”

Cyber crime is now estimated to cost Britain £27 billion a year with online shopping and auction scams, advanced fee frauds, online bank account cons and investment scams among the top “volume frauds”.

Extra funding is being given to police forces for specialist investigators and police forces like Warwickshire and West Mercia are working with interested partners to tackle the problem.