UK Generation Z wants more emphasis on cyber security

28 December 2015

Almost half (43%) of UK’s Generation Z want more focus on fighting cybercrime than on real-world crime, research  by PA Consulting Group shows. When it comes to combatting cybercrime, the UK public expects a dual role for ISPs and the police, with the majority of people confident that the police have a higher cyber capability than criminals. This, according to PA, is an overstatement of the reality that needs to be addressed.

In the interconnected world of today, people’s lives are increasingly taking place online. Whether it is to read emails, work via a cloud, talk to friends via social media and mobile apps or to find new people and products on (social) platforms. With this increased use of data-driven technologies also comes increased cybercrime. Thieves are no longer just targeting their victims in the real-world; they will also try and often succeed to steal from them in the cyber world. Part of the issue comes from people not knowing that they are unprotected as they rely on the technologies they use to be safe, which is not always the case. Research by IBM, for instance, shows that half of developers are not investing in apps security and that 63% of dating apps are vulnerable to hackers.

UK cybercrime

In the 2015 edition of its ‘Cybercrime Tipping Point' survey, PA Consulting researches the British public on what they want from the police in response to cybercrime, finding that the demands on, and expectations of, the police in tackling cybercrime are set to grow significantly. For its research, the consulting firm surveyed 1,034 adults aged 16+ in the UK on their views on cybercrime and the role of the police.

The research confirms other research and shows that more than half (53%) of the population in the UK are has been affected by cybercrime. The vast majority of these security breaches, at 84%, are incidents related to online fraud. Only a third of these security breaches are, however, reported as 70% of victims neglect to inform the authorities.

Generation Z and cybercrime

Different degrees of risk
Generation Z or the ‘digital natives’, which are the 16- to 17-year-olds that have been exposed to the internet their whole life, are most prone to cybercrime, and 50% of them have already been a­ffected by trolling*. Although this is the case, this age category is less concerned when it comes to cybercrime than people of 55+ years old, which are less likely to be targeted, at 44% compared to 70% respectively.

Whereas Generation Z is far less worried about their online safety, they do expect an increased emphasis of the authorities on fighting cybercrime. Almost half (43%) say they want more focus put on combatting cybercrime and less on real-world crime. For the generation most worried, the 55+ people, this is true for 20%. People do not expect local police to play the biggest role in cyber security; instead they see a role for the national police, when it comes to serious incidents, and for ISPs (internet service providers), for less serious cybercrimes – such as online fraud or theft.

Fighting cybercrime

When it comes to fighting cybercrime, the majority of the UK public is confident in the law enforcement capabilities of the police. 72% believe the police have better cyber capability than themselves and 59% think that the police are more technologically capable than cyber criminals. According to PA, the public’s opinion is herein overstating the reality. Of the police analysts the firm surveyed for its 2014 edition of the cybercrime research, only 30% feel comfortable with their current skills and tools and believe they can identify and tackle cyber threats effectively. The ‘digital native’ Generation Z appear to have the biggest confidence in law enforcement when it comes to. Seven out of ten 16-17 year olds express their confidence, compared to 60% of overall confidence among all respondents.

Law enforcement capability

According to Carl Roberts, security and policing expert at PA Consulting Group, the police needs to address this gap between the public’s expectations and the reality: “[…] At a time when the police are having to make difficult decisions on their priorities it is important that they understand what the public expects and ensure that digital capabilities are being developed in a collaborative and efficient way.” He stresses that “they need to be clear on who should be responsible for what capabilities at local and national levels; how to improve victim satisfaction; and how to engage with the emerging younger generations who have lived their entire lives on the internet.”

* Trolling is an attempt to anger others to the point of drawing them into an argument or an off topic debate, which is usually done via the internet.


Manchester Mayor criticised for £250,000 consulting spend

19 March 2019

The Mayor of Greater Manchester has been criticised for splurging hundreds of thousands of pounds on consulting fees before determining that the region’s fire brigade must slash its budget by millions. Andy Burnham put more than £250,000 towards work from ten consulting firms as part of a review into the region’s emergency services.

Despite the continued argument that projects like the Northern Powerhouse initiative are helping to address the North-South divide in the UK, statistics still show that the North has borne the brunt of austerity in England. Northern English cities have been disproportionately affected, with their spending cut on average by a fifth since 2010, while cities in the south and east of England had average losses of 9%.

The impact of spending cuts has been keenly felt in Greater Manchester in particular, where local government spending has fallen by as much as £650 per person since 2009 in some parts of the region. As the area looks to find further savings, while the Central Government continues to fail to deliver on its pledge to end austerity, it has been announced that the fire brigade for Greater Manchester faces a reduction of up to £10 million from its budget.

The swingeing cuts to hit the emergency service would likely see its fleet of fire engines reduced from 56 to 47, while six fire stations face closure, and 113 support staff could suffer the axe. The news follows an investigation from Mayor Andy Burnham, which was triggered in part by the admission of Chief Fire Officer, Jim Wallace, that since 2015 the service has failed to deliver “its own efficiency plan”.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham spent £268,300 to review the city’s fire service

The review itself has been far from inexpensive, however, and it has led some to accuse Burnham of hypocrisy. During the review of the fire service, which has delivered demands for the service to find major efficiency savings, the Greater Manchester Mayor reportedly splurged £268,300 in public funds on consulting work for his root-and-branch review.

According to local newspaper Manchester Evening News, Burnham tasked ten different consultancies with helping to compile the review, receiving payments ranging from £101,000 to £7,000. The largest amount was handed to Leicester headquartered P. Cooper & Associates for the expertise of a “senior change and transformation programme specialist,” while it was reported that another of the consultants gave “guidance on leadership and culture”.

A Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) spokesman said of the spending: “The Programme for Change programme has required input from specialists who are expert in areas such as organisational transformation, operating models for fire safety and estates.”

Manchester’s fire brigade was criticised in 2017 when, in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing, a report by Lord Kerslake noted crews had been held back from helping. Contrary to helping deliver a more efficient service, Unison has told the press that it believes the proposed cuts will make the residents of Greater Manchester “less safe”. With the expenditure of the review on private sector consultants now public, meanwhile, the union has slammed the report for throwing away public funds while jeopardising vital public sector work.

Unison represents the 113 staff who may lose their jobs, and a spokesperson for the union told Manchester Evening News, "It's disappointing that when finances are clearly tight, priority has been given to hiring external consultants rather than engaging with the workforce. This will be a shock to our members who were only told on Monday their jobs were at risk."

In recent years, a succession of local authorities have come under fire from officials and the general public for their consulting spending in the UK. Earlier in 2019, a freedom of information request by The Times revealed that local councils across the UK have spent around £400 million on consulting firms in the last year alone. According to the report, this represents a rise of more than a fifth since 2014, with critics using the figures to call into question the value added by engaging external expertise.

Commenting on the criticism many councils face, Tamzen Isacsson Chief Executive, Management Consultancies Association, said, “Consultants play a vital role in the public sector, [providing] transformational impacts, innovation and increased efficiency… Vital front line services continue to operate uninterrupted [while] consultants often help local authorities get better results with less money. As the MCA awards this year demonstrate consultants are delivering social benefits across the UK – from work on getting better outcomes for children in care to finding better processes for finding homes for vulnerable families in London these examples offer a true reflection of the consulting excellence that operates across the UK to the benefit of councils and the wider society.”