The challenges facing specialist police cyber-crime units: an empirical analysis

Diarmaid Harkin, Chad Whelan, Lennon Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


The growing threat of cyber-crime poses significant challenges for police organisations. This paper presents original, empirical research on specialist cyber-crime units in Australia to report on the issues and problems faced by police staff at the frontline of cyber-policing. Using a mix of survey data and in-depth interviewing with supervisors, key investigators, and civilian staff from two specialist cyber-crime units, this paper outlines the priority challenges as identified by members of these units. While staff report generally positive levels of job satisfaction working in the field of cyber-crime, three major themes emerged: (a) the accelerating quantity of the workload as cyber-crime becomes a bigger social problem; (b) the resourcing of the units has not developed commensurate with demand and (c) the level of skills and training within units are insufficient to address the unique nature and growing complexities of policing cyber-crime. Suggestions by staff regarding how to improve this situation are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-536
Number of pages18
JournalPolice Practice and Research: An International Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2018


  • Cyber-crime
  • police organisational structure
  • policing
  • specialist units

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