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What is Cyber Offender Prevention?

Cybercrime is currently one of the most disruptive forms of crime and is very likely to become even more disruptive in the future. It is remarkable that, compared to other forms of serious crime, cybercrime offenders are very young. Not only do they cause severe damage to society (companies and persons), they also destroy their own future. Most youngsters do not realize they can go to prison for several years for what they perceive as a challenge or a game. 

Cyber offenders, as opposed to offenders of offline forms of crime usually only encounter corrective measures well into their criminal career. Often, the first encounter with law enforcement related to cyberspace is an arrest. These offenders, who possess a skillset which is very much needed in the digital age, can be diverted to use their skills in legal ways that benefit society.

Cyber Offender Prevention (COP) is increasingly recognized as an effective and necessary response to cyber criminality alongside investigative efforts. The Dutch Police is aware of the value of cyber offender prevention and has set up a specialized Cyber Offender Prevention team, which is part of the National High Tech Crime Unit. The team has launched several campaigns to inform youngsters about the illegality of certain forms of cyber behaviour such as DDOS-attacks and using Remote Access Trojans (RAT). It also promotes the use of educational games that enforce cyber norms and cyber safety such as Framed and Hackshield. For at risk youth, or those who have already crossed the line, initiatives such as re:B00TCMP and Hack_Right have been developed in cooperation with private and public partners such as municipalities, the Probation Service (Halt and Reclassering), the Child Care Service and Protection Board and Public Prosecution Service.