Policing must change to attract top cyber investigators

11 October 2018

Cal Leeming

Cal Leeming, former hacker turned internet security expert

A former computer hacker has warned that policing needs to change its culture if it is to attract and retain the most talented cyber experts into the service.

Cal Leeming, who now runs a Cyber Security consultancy River Oakfield  previously served time in prison for computer hacking and fraud offences, told the Police Federation National Detectives’ Forum seminar that the restrictive nature of policing may deter some people from joining.

He to the assembled delegates in Manchester: “People clearly don’t join law enforcement for the money but there needs to be some incentive to attract the people with the right skills to investigate the increasingly complex world of cybercrime.

“Police forces need recognise that their regimented nature can put people off. There needs to be scope for force to be more flexible to allow people to be themselves.

“They also have to accept that people with these skillsets want to be challenged and they may quickly be jaded and want to move on after a few years.

“It is not all about money but it can certainly be a factor when the opportunity to earn big money is on offer in the private sector.

Mr Leeming, who has advised a variety of police forces and the National Crime Agency, said that a change in attitude from law enforcement organisations in the way they deal with hackers – especially younger people – from punishment to understanding and using them as a source of information.

“The NCA especially has moved on a great deal in even the last five years. They are moving to more collaborative approach rather than strict law enforcement which is helping them with their understanding of the cybercrime,” he said.

Mr Leeming turned his life around after coming in contact with a police officer who gave him an opportunity to take a different path.

“I was arrested by Thames Valley Police and the detective who was in charge of my case – Clive Read – actually gave me a chance. Sure I went to prison but he helped me get a reduced sentence and then he gave me references when I got out which helped me get a ‘proper’ job and I was able to turn my skills to something positive, which has led me here today and I will be eternally grateful to him,” he concluded.