Earlier this year, the Scottish Government published a report reviewing the evidence surrounding cyber-crime in Scotland. The review focuses on how cyber-crime is measured, the nature and extent of cyber-crime, apparent evidence gaps, and potential evidence sources going forward. It covers both individuals and businesses.
While cyber-crime is difficult to define, the Scottish Government adopts a broad definition of the concept in its report as any crime that involves cyber-technology. In the view of the Government, cyber-crime is, therefore, the “method or locus” of the offence; it is not a crime in itself.
Cyber-crime must be considered against the backdrop of the levels and trends of internet use across Scotland. Despite the internet providing numerous benefits to society, it has also created many new opportunities for criminals. How cyber-technologies, such as the internet, have created and shaped these opportunities is essentially the question that the report seeks to answer.
The report finds that cyber-crime is concentrated around certain crime types, such as sexual crimes, fraud and computer misuse. It also finds that cyber-technologies are changing the volume of certain crime types, namely sexual crimes. Furthermore, the nature and victimisation of certain crimes have changed – other sexual crimes like “communicating indecently”, for example, are more likely to affect younger people compared with non cyber-crimes. Finally, cyber-technologies have introduced an entirely new category of crime called computer misuse, which is one of the most prevalent crimes in Scotland today.
Despite these findings, the Scottish Government notes that more evidence is required to fully understand the extent of the impact that cyber-technologies have had on crime in Scotland. As such, they state that they will closely follow the developments in this area in the future.