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Cyber choices: educating young people in cyber careers and safety

In the final article of this short series, HLN caught up with Charlotte Knill about police forces help young people pursue careers in technology.

By Helen Bowman

In the final article of this short series, the High Life North team caught up with Charlotte Knill of the Northumbria Police Cyber Crime department to talk about the work that police forces all over the country are doing to help young people pursue careers in technology without falling foul of cybercrime and cybercriminals.

Hello again Charlotte. Your work in cybercrime doesn’t just fall under helping small businesses – you also work with young people in danger of falling into cybercrime. Can you tell us more about that?

Police forces all over the UK work with young people in several ways, but our primary focus today is the work we do with young people around technology, staying safe and not getting involved with cyber-dependent crimes.

Cyber-dependent crimes are crimes committed using a computer, a computer network or other forms of information communications technology (ICT). Hacking is a prime example of a cyber-dependent crime, whereby criminals gain unauthorised access into someone’s computer network for the purpose of stealing data or accessing personal files.

We work alongside the National Crime Agency who run Cyber Choices – an initiative aimed at educating our young people with an interest in technology to use their skills safely and legally, while also raising awareness of the consequences of becoming involved in cybercrime.

How does Cyber Choices work?

Here at Northumbria Police (as with our colleagues in Durham Constabulary, Cleveland Police and the North East Special Operations Unit – NERSOU), we run the Cyber Choices programme through a dedicated team of officers. I’m the dedicated Cyber Choices officer within Northumbria Police and work with young people throughout the Northumbria Police Force area to educate them about cybercrime and how they could work towards a career in the ICT industry without falling foul of cyber criminality.

I educate young people on how to use and develop their skills and knowledge about technology and communications in positive ways. For example, I’ll explain career opportunities in cyber security and what benefits successful applicants can expect from such a career move. We want to encourage people to use their skills for good rather than becoming embroiled in the illegal world of cybercrime.

Is Cyber Choices just for young people?

As an educational session, Cyber Choices is aimed at young people, but I’m also really interested in talking to adults who have an interest in this area and who might have responsibility for any young people. I work to explain the support the team can offer to those who might be vulnerable to committing cyber-dependent crime.

There are loads of resources available for parents, teachers and carers who are worried about their young people’s approach to technology and communication and whether they’ll make the right choices when it comes to using their skills and knowledge.

We are supported in this work by Cyber Choices officers at the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU).

How can our readers find out more about Cyber Choices and protect their young people against making bad choices?

The first thing to do is contact our cybercrimes department by emailing cyberadvice@northumbria.pnn.police.uk.

There’s also loads of advice and resources on the Cyber Choices website so that parents, carers and teachers can understand how they can help the young people in their care to channel their abilities in a positive way.

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