On Sunday, alongside my colleague Alex Williams I ran the Swindon Half Marathon to help raise money for a local charity, Dressability. Despite the persistent rain and wind, we were able to run the race is just over 2 hours and 20 minutes – a new personal best! I would personally like to thank everybody who braved the conditions and came out and not only made the atmosphere amazing, but kept me going by providing me with green jelly babies along the 13.1 mile course.
The Half Marathon was great for our Town, the parts of Swindon we know and love. But equally as important, those running the Half Marathon helped to raise thousands of pounds for charity.
Despite the positives of Sunday, I am sure many of you saw or heard of the traffic conditions, which were less than ideal. The race organisers have stated that tweaks will be made to ensure that disruption is minimised and that certain position are bolstered with police to manage vehicle crossings.
Making sure that our locks were secure, our homes were protected and things of value were locked in safes used to be the only way to protect ourselves against criminality. The Internet has changed all that. Almost 6 million online fraud and cyber-crime offences were committed in England and Wales last year, marking a shift away from more traditional crime. Many of us will have all experienced bogus emails and even phone calls designed to steal our personal data. I have spoken with several local residents who have fallen victim to these crimes in the past and many have not even been aware they have been targeted until they realise their savings have been stolen. The need for all of us to be careful and vigilant when sharing our personal details on the internet has never been greater.
The Government is taking this problem extremely seriously. At the end of last year, we announced a new five-year National Cyber Security Strategy. Supported by £1.9 billion of investment, the strategy set out the government’s commitment to tackling cyber crime in our country with detailed plans on how threats will be managed. The National Cyber Security Strategy follows on from my work in Westminster on the Investigatory Powers Act, which will help ensure that police and intelligence services can continue to tackle crime as it moves increasingly online in a way that balances our security with the need to protect our privacy too.
Earlier this year, the government opened a new National Cyber Security Centre as part of GCHQ, with a team of around 700 people. Following on from this, new advice and training on cyber crime were published last week, along with the results of a survey which highlighted the size of the cyber security and data protection challenge facing us all.
Whilst there has been progress in some areas when compared to last year’s health check, with more than half of company boards now setting out their approach to cyber risks (53 per cent up from 33 per cent) and more than half of businesses having a clear understanding of the impact of a cyber attack (57 per cent up from 49 per cent), the report showed that we still have a long way to go to protect businesses, charities, and individuals against the threat of cyber crime. I believe that our financial service institutions must develop more crime prevention measures to support customers who are elderly or otherwise vulnerable, for example.