Cheshire Constabulary has commissioned students at Reaseheath College to design and create a cybercrime garden at this year’s RHS Tatton flower show.

Sponsored by Barclays Bank, the garden aims to promote the force’s 5Cs guide to online safety in an innovative way as cybercrime can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, job or location. It is one of the fastest growing crimes in the UK, accounting for 48 per cent of all recorded crime.

We’re living in a world where we are rapidly becoming more and more reliant on digital technology, having to adapt quickly to the many daily tasks we do. Almost nine out of 10 of us use the internet every day on either smartphones, tablets or mobiles. And we’re not the only ones embracing new technology. This has not gone unnoticed by the criminal fraternity and organised crime groups, who are also adapting how they operate.

Deputy Chief Constable Julie Cooke explains: “For many years we have been providing advice to our communities on how to protect themselves in their home by locking doors and windows, fitting alarms, CCTV and so on – making it more difficult for the opportunist burglar.

“We want visitors to the garden to think the same about their online security, as they may not be as safe as they think they are and unwittingly leaving their virtual doors open to cyber criminals.

“Cybercrime now accounts for almost half of all recorded crime and is probably not a case of ‘if it will happen to you’ but ‘when it will happen to you’. More than 80 per cent of all known cyberattacks can be avoided by following our five simple rules – we’ve called them the 5Cs and they will help keep people safe and secure online.”

The five steps to staying safe online are:
• Create – a strong password
• Cover – regularly update your software
• Confidentiality – don’t share personal information
• Clicking – think before you click on links
• Connection – always use a secure WIFI

Steven Williams, lecturer in Design and Construction at Reaseheath College, along with a team of BSc Landscape Architecture undergraduates have been working closely with the Constabulary on the garden design and build.

Steve explains the concept: “The garden aims to raise the awareness of the five simple steps that can be taken to help people stay safe online. The planting scheme illustrates cybercrime with lighter tones representing crime prevention and the darker shades depicting the dark web and criminal elements. The students, Jake Jackson, Katie Monton, Nathan Webster and Brad Howarth are leading on the garden build, under my supervision, supported by other Reaseheath horticulture students.”

Claire Littler, Barclays Employee Engagement Manager said: “With the number of customers going online rapidly rising the issue of cyber security has never been more important. Some of the actions that customers can take to get cyber smart includes installing software that keeps your data safe and raising awareness of some of the common cons that would be fraudsters use. As fraud becomes more sophisticated its critical for customers to learn new ways to stay safe online.”

Julie Cooke concludes; “I’m absolutely delighted that Reaseheath College and Barclays share our common interest in helping us to keep people safe from cybercrime and fraud, and have been keen to work with us at RHS Tatton. The cybercrime garden will provide an effective and memorable experience that we hope will encourage everyone who visits to follow and share the 5Cs guide to online safety to keep themselves, their families and friends safe.”

Cheshire Constabulary’s Cyber Crime garden is plot 303 where police officers and staff will be on hand to talk to visitors about the 5Cs guide to online safety and Reaseheath students can advise on plants used within the design.

For more information on how to stay safe on line visit www.cheshire.police.uk/5Cs