Police call for extra resources to fight online crime

The Vanuatu Police Force is dealing with around three cases of cybercrime a week, with image abuse, slander and bullying on social media the main crimes reported.

The head of the police’s cybercrime unit, Sergeant Jeff Natapei, says more police officers are needed to fight cybercrime because “so many people are becoming victims”.

He says the crimes often occur because people are less careful about expressing themselves online.

Mr Natapei, says Vanuatu’s new Cybercrime Act 2021 and associated changes to the penal code, have clearly established what constitutes cybercrime and how it should be dealt with.

But he says the Vanuatu Police Force needs to improves its knowledge of the new law and its expertise in tackling cybercrime.

Mr Natapei says the Cyber Safety Pasifika program – run by the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police group and the Australian Federal Police – is assisting Vanuatu police with online crime training.

He says while the police are running cybercrime public awareness activities in communities, criminals are increasingly active online.

Vanuatu’s new Cybercrime Act 2021, passed in June this year, deals with online threats such as cyberbullying, stalking, identity theft and digital hate crimes, but also protects free speech and the public good.

As well as targeting the abuse of computer systems, programs and data; it covers online confidentiality and integrity; and access to computer systems, programs and data.

The law prohibits illegal access to Vanuatu’s critical infrastructure, such as computers systems, physical facilities, supply chains, IT and communication networks, public utilities and essential services.

And it sets down how police are allowed to gather evidence for the investigation and prosecution of breaches of the Act and ways to facilitate international cooperation on cybercrime.

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