A specialist unit created to fight online crime is celebrating its first anniversary today.

Cumbria Constabulary’s Cyber and Digital Crime Unit, funded by Cumbria’s police and crime commissioner, focuses on online crimes from fraud to child sexual exploitation.

Since launching, the unit has worked on 90 cases, with 47 related to online child abuse and 43 fraud cases. Over the past year 51 suspects have been arrested with 18 criminals charged.

The Digital Forensics Unit, which comes under the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit, has helped with 355 cases across the force by examining seized electronics.

Detective Inspector Ian Harwood leads the unit. He said: “These figures show how busy the unit has been in its first year and the important role it is playing in catching cyber criminals and protecting the public.

“This unit has, without a doubt, provided an improved service to protect anybody who uses a digital device. When we look at all the reported cybercrimes, almost all of them could be prevented by following our advice around protecting ourselves online.

“Cyber criminals can hide behind their screens. But their actions can have a huge impact on businesses, individuals, vulnerable members of society and children.”

Crime commissioner Peter McCall said: “Technology is advancing so quickly and criminals are realising that they can target trusting people from the comfort of their own home.

“This has never been more pertinent than through this lockdown when so many more people have been conducting business, education and communicating with each other online. Criminals too have focused on opportunities to exploit online activity and, as always, they target the vulnerable in our communities.

“This is why it is so imperative that Cumbria has a dedicated and highly skilled team that can track online crime and bring criminals to justice.”