We are delighted to announce that Edmonds Marshall McMahon (“EMM”) and The Cyber Helpline have launched a collaboration to help tackle the cybercrime crisis, by offering a pro bono legal clinic to victims of cybercrime. There has been a cybercrime boom in recent years, which has intensified during the coronavirus pandemic as more of daily life has been conducted online (creating new opportunities for cybercriminals).

Losses from cybercrime go beyond personal and company finances. Cybercrime puts pressure on public services, fuels organised crime and psychologically impacts individuals. The psychological impact is particularly pronounced in today’s world, where technology touches every aspect of our lives and means that victims often feel like there is no escape.

Notwithstanding all this, law enforcement has not prioritized cybercrime and many victims have, in effect, been denied access to justice. The purpose of a partnership between EMM and The Cyber Helpline is to help correct this and provide relief to cybercrime victims – all too often, they are simply not believed or given generic advice by the police.

Who are EMM and The Cyber Helpline?

EMM is the UK’s premier private prosecution firm, prosecuting the full range of offences under the criminal law. Importantly, however, the firm has particular expertise in investigating, advising on and prosecuting cybercrime offences. The Cyber Helpline is a UK charity, which is staffed by skilled volunteers and provides expert assistance to victims of cybercrime & online harm – it does so primarily through its free, confidential helpline.

A key aim of this partnership is to raise awareness about the range of remedies that exists for victims of cybercrime (beyond traditional law enforcement). These tools include the ability to bring a private prosecution to hold offenders to account. While criminal prosecutions are normally brought by the Crown Prosecution Service and Serious Fraud Office, the UK is one of the only places in the world that allows victims of crime to privately prosecute in the criminal courts, without having to rely on the state.

EMM has particular experience investigating and prosecuting cybercrime offences. The firm regularly deals with online fraud, data theft and cyberstalking. These are some of the most common issues that The Cyber Helpline also advises on. As such, a collaboration between EMM and The Cyber Helpline (where we share expertise and capitalize on our respective strengths) could make a meaningful impact in the cybercrime arena and help to fill the enforcement gap.

What will the collaboration entail?

In addition to the legal clinic, EMM and The Cyber Helpline have commenced a dialogue on how to tackle the cybercrime crisis more broadly, including how to raise awareness that victims have a range of remedies available to them. Getting the word out that free, expert, confidential advice is actually available to victims is central to the partnership’s mission.

Similarly, raising awareness that private prosecutions exist is critically important. The possibility of a prison sentence and criminal record is a great deterrent for cybercriminals. A willingness to use private prosecutions shows online abusers and fraudsters that victims will take decisive action to expose them and bring them to justice.

Through this partnership, EMM and The Cyber Helpline hope to set a powerful example and send a clear message to cybercriminals – that victims have free resources and legal routes available to them, and that they need not rely on the state to access these. This ought to give perpetrators pause for thought.