Five years ago, a coalition government headed up by the Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats committed an annual budget of £650m into the UK Cyber Security industry, in order to make “the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do business in Cyberspace

[1]”. Over the past five years, there has been an increased investment to £860m, and the accelerated shift towards a more digitalised world and the UK’s national Cyber capabilities have improved tremendously.

Earlier this month, the Conservative Party won a surprise majority in the House of Commons, on the manifesto promise of a ‘brighter, more secure future[2]’. Set out in their five year plan, is a vision for the future; this vision highlights that Cyber has become so inter-woven into our everyday lives, that it is now inseparable from the traditional manifesto issues upon which the election was fought – the economy, the European Union (EU), crime and justice, and defence.

‘It’s the economy, stupid’

Part of the Government’s six-point plan to boost the economy by encouraging business innovation, transport and tourism in the South West includes a plan to “ensure the world-class defence assets and Cyber security industries of the South West provide the maximum benefit to the local economy[3]“. This will ensure the South West is seen as a ‘centre of excellence’ of operations for the Army, Navy, Royal Marines and cyber security. GCHQ is expected to continue to play a major role, by supporting Cyber security in the region and recruiting over new 400 Cyber specialists.

The European Union

One of the real battlegrounds of the election, and a contentious sticking-point for many over the years, has focused upon Britain’s membership of the EU. By the end of 2017, the electorate will have the chance to participate in an ‘in-out’ referendum with a simple choice: to stay or leave the EU. Amongst other incredibly complex issues, this could have a real and significant implication on how nations exchange information. One school of thought believes that opting out of the EU could be detrimental in terms of how the UK shares information in terms of security intelligence. This has the potential to heavily impact many sectors, including law enforcement agencies such as Europol and acts to curtail the benefits of sharing information within an international community. Moreover, the loss of the free economic trade area will mean reduced benefits for organisations to conduct their business internationally, despite the use of the internet. In addition, another discourse offers the idea that a lack of investment by the UK in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) will adversely affect the UK’s ‘special relationship’ with the US, but ultimately this will mean losing privileged access to information from both Europe and the US, perhaps causing some UK-EU tensions.

Crime and Justice

UK Cyber-crime costs businesses £27bn. a year[4]. Upskilling law enforcement to fully understand the impact of Cyber-crime and have the capabilities to investigate cases adequately is a challenge which must be addressed. One of the initiatives raised in  the Conservative’s manifesto is the plan to improve response to cyber-crime with reforms to police training and an expansion in the number of volunteer ‘Cyber Specials’. Cyber Specials, dubbed ‘iPlods’ by the media, are volunteers outside of law enforcement with the specialist computer skills to tackle cyber-crime. Cyber Specials are trained in intelligence and forensic work, and are used in search and arrest teams. Upskilling police and volunteers could have an extremely positive impact on the law-enforcement landscape, by bringing crime-fighting tactics to combat the technological capabilities of Cyber criminals.


The vision to build a “modern, flexible Armed forces[5]” will continue, with the Conservative Party committing to invest in Cyber defence capabilities. One example, is the Joint Cyber Reserve which aims to build up security and forensics skills and is expected to be fully operational by 2017.

Another part of defence includes the controversial area of Government surveillance.  This is hoped to”strengthen our ability to disrupt terrorist plots, criminal networks and organised child grooming gangs[6]“. Other initiatives such as new ‘Extremism Disruption Orders’ will give Government the power to curtail the use of those online who are seeking to radicalise young British people via the internet, or over social media.

Since the announcement of the 2011 UK Cyber Security Strategy, the Government has done much work in order to build the skills, knowledge and capabilities needed to build mature and resilient organisations. By 2020, these critical skills will also be embedded within public sector industries such as law-enforcement and the armed forces. All of this, contributes to the vision of making the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do business.

[1] UK Cyber Security Strategy, 2011

[2] The Conservative Party Manifesto, 2015


[4] ‘The cost of Cyber-crime’, The Cabinet Office, 2011

[5] The Conservative Party Manifesto, 2015

[6] The Conservative Party Manifesto, 2015