Cumbria massacre top cop also patrols cyberspace
Favours internet self-policing, 'sexy technical stuff'
Analysis The UK's top e-copper has been put under the microscope over his force's heavily criticised response to Derrick Bird's fatal shooting spree.
Deputy Chief Constable (DCC) Stuart Hyde was the public face of the Cumbrian Constabulary in the days following Bird's murderous Lake District rampage. His boss, Chief Constable Craig Mackey, has made the highly unusual request for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to “peer review” his force's actions.
This step will not rule out a full investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission if a formal complaint is filed.
DCC Hyde is responsible for the Cumbrian forces' personnel and development, strategic development and professional standards.
ACPO says it expects these peer reviews will be concluded by the autumn and will be made public when available.
As well as his role with the Cumbrian police, DCC Hyde is also ACPO's spokesman on e-Crime prevention and president of the Society for the Policing of Cyberspace.
As well as patrolling Wordsworth Country, Hyde's cyberspace role makes him sound as though he's leading the Turing Police in William Gibson's cyberpunk novel Neuromancer. But before leaping Judge Dredd style into protecting the citizens of cyberspace he's keen on getting a straightforward computer crime safety message out into physical neighbourhoods, via officers on the beat.
As ACPO's e-crime prevention guy Hyde has said, in an interview in 2009, that he doesn't see why e-crime safety shouldn't be delivered the same way as other policing initiatives – through the neighbourhood. “That’s the way we do our business,” he says.
“I want to enable neighbourhood officers to have a very basic understanding of cybercrime, e-crime, and computer crime issues – so if they’re asked when out on patrol in speaking to their communities, they can provide the right advice, guidance where people can turn to if they need help.”
He recognises the problem with educating officers in computer-related crime issues is keeping their knowledge up-to-date. It's only simple if the officers have a personal interest in technology.
Hyde himself got the tech bug while involved in an operation with Avon and Somerset Constabulary early on in his career. A computer shop was taking stolen computers and selling them out as second hand, and making a pretty bad job of it. “I learnt how to identify stolen computers, and not just because they had 'property of University of Bristol' on them. But by going into the disk editor and looking at what was left on the hard drive, and getting into some sexy technical stuff.”
Hyde has said he feels everyone has a responsibility to protect themselves and their children, first and foremost, when it comes the their computers and internet connections. “You don’t have to search very far to find information that will help you to make yourself safe - there's a little bit of self protection that has to take place here. Just the same as we want people in the non-digital world to protect themselves. You don’t leave your house unless you’ve locked it, you generally put your car alarm on. The e-world is exactly the same. Clearly you wouldn’t let your kids just roam off and do what the hell they like, equally you wouldn't want them to do what the hell they like on-line.”
In 2008 Hyde received an Honorary Doctorate in Technology from the University of Wolverhampton in recognition of his achievements in tackling online crime.
He has said he sees a good part of the future of cyber enforcement following the route of organisations like the UK ISP-created Internet Watch Foundation, with connected industries leading the way.
“Traditionally we expect UK PLC to protect us from everything – but it can’t. The internet is a self generated organisation and nobody owns it and therefore it should be self policed – that’s the best policing that can take place.”
The aim of the Society for the Policing of Cyberspace is to forge international cooperation among public and private bodies to prevent and combat crimes in cyberspace, and learning from each other's models. Hyde says a number of countries now have organisations like the IWF, which takes reports of illegal online content and gets them taken down, and CEOP (the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre), a UK police agency. Hyde, as one of its architects, modelled elements of CEOP on the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The education sector also has its role. “Most schools have got e-crime strategies but most won’t call it that. And ICT [information and communication technologies] teachers deliver more e-crime prevention guidance than the police do. They don’t want the school to be downloading images, viruses, sending emails that are illegal, and don’t want kids to be bullied. Schools themselves are pretty good at protecting each other,” Hyde says. ®