On the 8th February 2022, the West Midlands Regional Cyber Crime Unit (RCCUWM) sponsored Safer Internet Day for the first time since the Unit was established. Our goal as well as that of our colleagues across the ROCU network is to provide schools with cyber security support for not only their business operations, but to assist with improving our education staff and students personal cyber hygiene.

As it’s been reported over the past year, cyber security for schools is becoming more important than ever, with many schools falling victim to cyber attacks, particularly with seeing an increase ransomware attacks. We also are aware that in 2021 alone, 13,424 people reported that their social media or email account had been hacked, which we know that a lot of Secondary school pupils are engaging in. Based off of these figures combined with the conversations with schools around the pressures they’re under to provide students with online safety support, we felt it was time to take part in Safer Internet Day, a fantastic international event celebrated by approximately 170 countries worldwide.

We are delighted to report that our pre-recorded video presentations which highlighted topics such as password security, phishing, 2 factor authentication, Cyber Choices and potential cyber development or career opportunities, have been viewed by over 4K educators or youth leaders from schools across the country. Our survey results have also showed that this viewing figure should mean that an estimated 180,000 Primary and Secondary school students across the UK have viewed our videos.  We were also grateful to be joined by industry partners from the School of Coding in supporting this event who delivered online safety advice covering topics such as respectful online, cyber bullying and mental health in the digital space.

Our videos are still available on our West Midlands Regional Cyber Crime Unit YouTube Channel for schools to utilise as we’d be more than happy to take feedback to ensure we can improve on what we hope to deliver next year. Feel free to get in touch with us at wmcyber@westmidlands.police.uk. Equally, if you’re not from the West Midlands region but wish to seek support from your local Regional Cyber Crime Unit or local police force cyber team, please find you closest team on the NCSC website.

In addition to our videos, we were able to provide a helpful resource pack of useful materials aimed at protecting your students online, but also resources your schools could use to make themselves more secure. This pack includes government back guidance and initiatives such as the National Cyber Security Centre’s Cyber Security for Schools resources as well as links to the PSHE KS3 Cyber Crime and Barefoot #becybersmart lesson plans aimed at those aged 6-11. 

We want to thank all the schools across the country that used our pre-recorded videos and took part in such an important day.  We also wish to thank our partners – School of Coding as well as ROCU network colleagues and other external public and private sector partners for helping to share our event.  As we’ve mentioned, the response has been amazing from thousands of schools across the UK, so we also wanted to give a huge thank you those schools that took part in our survey following their participation in Safer Internet Day.