The Victorian Government has announced a $115 million funding package for Victoria Police with a major focus on stopping cyber crime.
The funding plan was unveiled at yesterday’s pre-budget announcement, and Police Minister Lisa Neville says the planned changes will provide “more police, more powers, more technology and more capability to drive down crime.”
While there is funding allocated for a new CBD police station and new mobile stations, the centrepiece of the agreement is the $24 million that will be spent to target organised crime, child exploitation activities and money laundering online.
Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton says that such crimes can be difficult to tackle without adequate funding.
“For us to be able to combat that, we needed more investment, more experts, train those experts and we need the equipment,” Ashton said.
The Victorian Government’s announcement comes just days after federal Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton warned of the growing danger of cyber crime and the exorbitant costs they cause.
Speaking at the Australian Cyber Security Centre Conference in Canberra, Dutton said that cyber crime costs Australians more than $1 billion per year, and that technological advances make it hard to keep up with online criminals.
“Cyber criminals are mounting increasingly sophisticated and discrete attacks employing credential-harvesting, ransomware, and social engineering,” Dutton said.
Online attacks on the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Bureau of Statistics over the last two years have the Australian government on high alert, with Defence Minister Marise Payne and Cyber Security Minister Angus Taylor also backing the push for a cyber crime crackdown.
Police action against online crime has come under the microscope in recent years, as the unique nature of tackling them has proven challenging for traditional law enforcement agencies.
IDCARE, a cyber support service for Australia and New Zealand, received 28,000 calls for assistance in 2016 alone.
Managing director Professor David Lacey said he expected that figure to hit 120,000 annually by 2020, and that he was concerned by the lack of support from police.
“In our experience few will hear back from law enforcement… most Australians will be on their own,” Lacey said.