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AFP helping to increase cyber safety awareness across the Pacific

Editor's note: Images available via Hightail.

The AFP is training and upskilling police officers across the Pacific in cybercrime investigations and delivering cyber safety education and awareness programs to assist Pacific police partners to keep their communities safe and secure online.

Cyber Safety Pasifika (CSP) was established by the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police (PICP) with the aim of increasing cyber safety awareness in Pacific communities and upskilling Pacific police in the conduct of cybercrime investigations.

The AFP, through the Pacific Police Development Program - Regional (PPDP-R), delivers CSP on behalf of the PICP to support safety and security across the Pacific region. CSP has rolled out training in Vanuatu, Kiribati, Fiji, Nauru and Samoa during the last year, with police force members from Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Solomon Islands and Tonga also taking part.

Participants undertook CSP's two key foundation programs - Cyber Safety Awareness and Education Community Trainer, and Cybercrime Investigations.

CSP's awareness and education program equips Pacific police partners with the skills and confidence to deliver presentations to their communities on safely navigating the digital landscape. The program also aims to develop some of those partners into trainers in line with the "by the Pacific, for the Pacific" philosophy, thereby supporting Pacific police to lead the delivery of CSP courses in the future.

The cybercrime investigation program helps participants understand and investigate cyber and technology-enabled crime offences. The course equips Pacific police with tools and techniques that they can utilise in their unique environments when responding to cyber threats and incidents.

Over the past five years, 365 Pacific police officers have undertaken a face-to-face CSP program across 17 Pacific nations. Programs were delivered virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure police officers could still train and upskill.

The AFP partners with numerous organisations - including the Australian Cyber Security Centre, the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre, Digicel, the FBI, Meta, and New Zealand Police - to ensure CSP programs are delivered by subject matter experts.

AFP Detective Superintendent PPDP-R Kathryn Polkinghorne said it was more important than ever to grow cyber capability across the Pacific.

"The CSP program is extremely important to the Pacific region in raising community awareness and helping police officers enhance their skills and awareness in the effort to combat cybercrime," Detective Superintendent Polkinghorne said.

"As internet connectivity across the Pacific region increases, cybercrime becomes a greater risk, so it is vital that police and the broader community know how to stay safe online.

"The AFP is committed to working with our partners to support the Pacific to engage safely in the digital environment, noting the benefits for communities flowing from safe online connectivity."

The AFP has delivered the CSP program in Nauru and Samoa in recent months.

More than 50 police officers took part in the CSP program held in Nauru, including participants and observers from the Department of Education, Women's and Social Development Affairs, Nauru Government Information Office, Nauru Media and Nauru Government Information, Communication and Technology.

The program was successfully delivered through the Nauru-Australia Policing Partnership (NAPP) program, which has been in place since the AFP first deployed to Nauru in 2004.

Nauru Police Force Commissioner Iven Notte is a strong supporter of the CSP program and said expanding the delivery of the program to include key partners would further increase the understanding of cyber safety within the community.

"It is very important to protect the Nauru community from cyber harm," Commissioner Notte said.

"The CSP training better equips the Nauru Police Force to tackle these emerging problems alongside their partners."

CSP also successfully delivered two programs in Samoa, with participants from the Samoa Police, Prisons and Corrections Services.

Samoa Police Acting Commissioner Leiataua Samuelu Afamasaga, who opened the training course, said Pacific police could utilise the training to respond to cyber threats in their unique environment.

"This course has provided our members with the skills and knowledge to succeed in this field. They have learned about the different types of cybercrime, the tools and techniques used by cyber criminals and the legal framework to investigate and prosecute cybercrimes," Leiataua said.

"The course has provided our members with the opportunity to develop their problem-solving and analytical skills, and how apply them to the real world."

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