POLICE are stepping up their efforts to tackle growing cyber crime.

The West Mercia and Warwickshire forces said cyber issues had created massive challenges for law enforcement, with one in three adults nationally suffering online crime over the past year compared with one in five suffering offline crime.

Det Chief Insp Sean Paley, of the Warwickshire and West Mercia Police specialist operations unit, said: “Cyber crime knows no geographic boundaries - it can be local, national, global all at the same time. People are, increasingly, living their lives online.

"Networked devices outnumber people six to one and cyber crime is now seen as the typical volume crime in the UK.

“We need to educate people to the risks to ensure they can use the internet safely. Virtually everyone is exposed to cyber crime at some time.”

Det Chief Insp Paley said the police were committed to developing their prevention and investigative capability to counter the threat. “In Warwickshire and West Mercia, we are supporting the Government’s aim of building a secure, resilient, open and trusted internet," he explained. "To this end, we are working with partners across the area to ensure this vision becomes a reality.

“We work very closely with Action Fraud, our Regional Organised Crime Unit and our partners to tackle cyber-related crime and have invested in partnership boards across Warwickshire and West Mercia to build upon existing resources.

“We believe one of the most effective ways to disrupt cyber criminals is to help and support the public by raising awareness. Simple measures, such as updating software and anti-virus systems, can prevent people falling victim.

“Whether in the real world or online, I can’t over-emphasise how important it is for consumers and businesses to know how to protect themselves against fraud. Always make sure you have the latest security software installed on your computer to enable shopping and banking safely online.

“Basic information risk management can prevent around 80 per cent of cyber attacks suffered by businesses.”

He added: “Fraudsters can be extremely persuasive - do not be fooled. Your bank or the police will never call, visit or email you to request your PIN, collect your bank card or ask you to transfer money to another account. Anyone attempting to do so is a fraudster.”

Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre, received 3,898 reports from the West Mercia Police area (Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and Worcestershire) between January, 2013 and March this year.

The largest number of complaints concerned online shopping and auctions (885), advance fee frauds (524) and computer virus/malware/spyware (324).

Victims of fraud or anyone suspecting they might have fallen victim should contact Action Fraud on actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or call 0300 123 2040.