Detective Superintendent Neil Jones is Head of Cyber Security & Innovation at The Cyber Resilience Centre for Greater Manchester. The first person to hold this position, Neil brings over 15 years of experience to the table, having worked across a diverse range of police roles including Local Policing, Cyber & Economic Crime, Serious & Organised Crime, Criminal Investigations and Public Protection.
As the Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) for Cybercrime for the North West, Neil works closely with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU), to help local forces provide accessible, consistent, government-backed support and training to organisations of all sizes.
We sat down with Neil to talk more about what his job involves, and the challenges brought to the centre by the recent COVID-19 crisis:
You were the first person to take on this groundbreaking role, what made you decide to do so?
As the former head of cyber and economic crime, I could see first-hand the damaging impact of cybercrime on our communities and on businesses in particular. This role provides a platform to make a real difference to businesses and help to protect them from becoming victims, which is a much stronger offer than just reacting to the crime.
I was excited by the opportunity to develop unique business skills that can be taken back into policing whilst also supporting the skills development of our students. It’s also very rare in life, let alone policing, you get the opportunity to build a new business from scratch, secure seed funding, build the team and shape how the company actually runs. It’s a phenomenal opportunity.
Can you give us some insight into what your role involves?
My role is all about relationships. As the key conduit between policing and the private and academic sectors, lots of my time is spent negotiating, influencing and networking with senior executives, building trust with those who are key to the success of the centre.
I also report to the NPCC, Deputy Mayor (PCC) and Chief Officers and, as a Director of the CRC Ltd, I work directly with the Managing Director to deliver the day-to-day operations of the CRC.
Can you tell us how you balance being a frontline worker while also heading up the centre?
I’m lucky in that I’m seconded as the full-time Strategic Policing lead. This means that other than my operational covers as the duty force Senior Investigating Officer, I can commit my time fully to the CRC and its success. The agile nature of the role, with opportunities for remote and home working, together with flexibility to work evenings (which can be required when engaging the private sector) means I’m able to balance this really well.
What is the biggest challenge for your centre at the moment?
Coronavirus has had a huge impact on our planned membership drive, which would have started to generate financial income for the centre and act as an on-ramp to provide further commercial services. This has caused us to rethink our whole engagement strategy and move towards more virtual and online delivery. We are also giving away free memberships to support those most affected.
What is the best piece of advice you have for businesses who need help managing their cybersecurity at this time?
Reach out and contact us. We’re here to help signpost you to the latest free, government-backed advice and to local businesses who you can trust.
What difference will it make when the full network of Centres is in place?
This will propel the CRC to another level. The ability to share materials and signpost to a national network or trusted businesses will make a huge difference, building on the established, trusted status of the CRC as part of the national law enforcement Cyber Protect network.