Police and community attitudes to the policing of cybercrime in Australia

Dr Cassandra Cross1, Associate Professor  Anastasia  Powell2, Professor Thomas Holt3

1Queensland University Of Technology, , ,

2RMIT University, , ,

3Michigan State University, ,

Cybercrime is a significant problem at both a national and international level. There are estimates that cybercrime is costing the global economy up to USD$600 billion annually. Cybercrime is an umbrella concept that covers a wide variety of offences, from hacking and malware, to fraud and identity theft, to online stalking and harassment.

Police agencies face genuine challenges in responding to cybercrime in a way that satisfies the public. For example, an evaluation of the (former) Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) found that over three quarters (76%) of individuals who lodged a complaint, were dissatisfied with the outcome of their report. In part this speaks to a misalignment in expectations between what the public expect police to do, and what they realistically can do. Regardless, this contributes to anger and frustration on both sides.

This paper presents preliminary findings of a survey conducted across both police and members of the public in Australia, comparing their attitudes and knowledge of several categories of cybercrime. It provides a summary of the similarities and differences across the expectations of police and community members in relation to responding to cybercrime. In particular, it highlights a differential in the perceived risk and threat of victimisation that cybercrime poses to an individual. Consequently, it highlights further areas for investigation into the future.


Dr Cassandra Cross is a Senior Research Fellow, Cybersecurity Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), based at Queensland University of Technology. Previously, she worked as a research/policy officer with the Queensland Police Service, where she commenced research on the topic of online fraud. In 2011, she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to examine the prevention and support of online fraud victims worldwide. Since taking up her position at QUT in 2012, she has continued her research into online fraud, publishing work across the policing, prevention and victim support aspects. In 2019, she was appointed to the Cybersecurity CRC to further her work on romance fraud victimisation. With colleagues, she has received several highly competitive Criminology Research Grants to explore issues surrounding fraud and cybercrime. She is co-author (with Professor Mark Button) of the book Cyber frauds, scams and their victims published by Routledge in 2017.

Recent Comments
    Recent Comments