History of the Global Prosecutors E- Crime Network (GPEN)

The origins of the GPEN initiative lie in the UK's developing strategy to combat high-tech crime and in related activities within the Crown Prosecution Service of England and Wales (CPS). This area of criminal activity is known variously as high-tech crime, E-crime, cybercrime, computer crime, digital crime etc.

E-Crime the problem

All prosecutors, worldwide, have to deal with growing numbers of cases where computers or other electronic devices are used:

  • as a crime tool (for example in the distribution of child abuse material, identity theft, online fraud, credit card exploitation);
  • as the target of criminals (by hacking and unauthorised access to and manipulation of data); and
  • as storage and communication mechanisms to facilitate the commission of offences, such as drug dealing.

E-Crime prosecution – meeting the challenges

GPEN was designed to assist in solving some of the high-tech crime prosecution problems and meeting some of the challenges in practice that Esther George, former Senior Prosecutor/Policy Advisor CPS, noticed United Kingdom prosecutors were experiencing. Being anxious to learn from others, but also to share, the CPS approached the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) with a view to establishing and resourcing a global network of E-crime specialists. The IAP has enthusiastically embraced the task.

The International Association of Prosecutors involvement

The 13th Annual Conference of the IAP was held in Singapore in August 2008, the theme of which was 'New Technologies in Crime and Prosecution: Challenges and Opportunities'. Much of the emphasis was upon 'cybercrime.' The event offered a perfect opportunity to formally launch GPEN, and Baroness Scotland the then Attorney General for England and Wales did the honours. The conference aims were:

  1. To identify new challenges for prosecutors in combating the rise of criminality, which is either facilitated by technology or where technology is the target.
  2. To identify new ways of harnessing technology to assist in the detection, investigation and prosecution process.
  3. To identify three practical steps that the IAP can take either through its membership or in collaboration with affiliated organisations to address 1 and 2 above.

As result of the conference it was agreed that the IAP would:

  • Facilitate training, education and sharing good practice via exchange of contact details, training materials, legislative tools, details of existing training programmes, etc;
  • Accumulative training covering both general practitioners and high-tech crime specialists;
  • Training to include judiciary and law enforcers, with the benefit of industry input where appropriate;
  • Address needs of developing countries and specific regions e.g. Africa; and
  • GPEN to be the primary vehicle to accomplish this under leadership of the GPEN Development Board.

GPEN was seen as the main vehicle to promote training, heighten awareness, record and disseminate information, facilitate communication, spread good practice and link prosecutors with industry and law enforcement in the area of E-crime. It was also recognised that there was a need to promote the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, being the only international instrument and a most comprehensive one on such forms of criminality.

GPEN's progress

In 2008, a GPEN Development Board was set up comprising interested IAP member representatives under the chairmanship of Nick Cowdery SC, then Director of Public Prosecutions, New South Wales, Australia and a former President of the IAP. GPEN is currently supervised by a small Subcommittee of the IAP Executive comprised of a Chair, Han Moraal, Secretary-General of IAP, ​and members Dr Ali AlBuainain, Attorney General of the Kingdom of Bahrain and Mr Cheol-Kyu Hwang, Deputy Minister (Chief Prosecutor) for Crime Prevention Policy of the Ministry of Justice in South Korea. GPEN is supported by Edith Van Den Broeck, GPEN Senior Legal Adviser, Esther George, GPEN Lead Cybercrime Consultant, and Danya Chaikel, GPEN Legal Consultant.

2009 First GPEN website launched

The GPEN website has been in operation since April 2009. New material is posted online progressively. All material listed can be used by members free of copyright restrictions. There are security restrictions to the network to ensure that the material available to members is not open to misuse. There are four discrete web areas that can only be accessed by members using a password:

  • a virtual Global E-Crime Prosecutors' College, containing a database of E-crime training courses and presentations;
  • a library collection of E-crime material, for example, national legislation and legal guidance;
  • a discussion forum (message/chat board) for the exchange of queries and advice; and
  • a contacts database of fellow nominated E-crime prosecutors from around the world.

Some members of the GPEN Committee have represented and spoken about GPEN at numerous events around the world. The following are some examples:

  • a meeting of three G8 subgroups in Japan in November 2008;
  • speaking on GPEN and cybercrime at a number of the Council of Europe Octopus Interface Conferences for cybercrime experts since in March 2009;
  • a presentation on GPEN at the 6th IAP Middle East & Asia-Pacific Regional Conference in Dubai in November 2009;
  • There have also been presentations at the UNODC (United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime) offices in Vienna and at the 12th UN Crime Congress in Brazil in April 2010;
  • ICSPA (International Cyber Security Protection Alliance) Annual Meetings in Scotland in November 2012 and London 2013; and
  • Commonwealth Lawyers Conference April 2013.

GPEN training program

The first GPEN training program was held in Bermuda in August 2009. It was hosted by Rory Field, whilst he was the DPP for Bermuda and a member of the GPEN Development Board (the predecessor to the current GPEN Committee). The "Prosecutions: Technological Challenges and Practical Solutions" two-day training workshop was attended by prosecutors from 15 Caribbean nations. The training was funded by the DDP of Bermuda, the Commonwealth Secretariat and GPEN/IAP. The training was extremely successful and was an example of how different jurisdictions can collaborate under the auspices of GPEN in this field.

September 2009 14th Annual Conference of the IAP in Kyiv

Members of the Development Board held their first informal and yet productive meeting during the 14th Annual Conference of the IAP in Kyiv (Kiev) in September 2009. The Conference Outcomes in Kyiv included: "Development of GPEN and associated training to continue". First GPEN Board Meeting January 2010

The first formal Development Board meeting was held in Bahrain on 19-20 January 2010, hosted by the Attorney General of Bahrain. At that meeting the Board agreed a Governance Document for GPEN and a Work Plan for 2010-2011. Both documents were adopted by the IAP Executive Committee at the March 2010 meeting.

GPEN also engaged the United Nations, in particular through the 12th UN Crime Congress in Salvador, Bahia in Brazil in April 2010. In 2010 the IAP then General Counsel Elizabeth Howe was involved in preparatory meetings for a workshop held during the Congress upon international criminal justice education on the rule of law and she demonstrated the value of GPEN as a means of delivering to prosecutors all over the world training and information about cybercrime and how to combat it. This was of particular relevance to the Congress, as one of the substantive themes was 'Recent developments in the use of science and technology by offenders and by competent authorities in fighting crime including the case of cybercrime'.

A second cybercrime workshop was staged in the Maldives on 12-14 June 2010 on "Investigation and Prosecution of Hi-Tech Crime - Technological Challenges and Practical Solutions" which was arranged by the Commonwealth Secretariat using resources and source material provided by and through GPEN.

GPEN European Regional Conference 16 November 2011

This event was hosted in the World Trade Centre in Rotterdam by Han Moraal (IAP Secretary General and GPEN Chair) when he was a Prosecutor General in the Netherlands. The theme was 'Fighting Worldwide E-Crime'. A full report is available on the GPEN website.

January 2014 GPEN website redesign and community building programme launched

In 2013, the UK Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office provided funds to enable the GPEN to undergo a radical improvement programme, including in particular an upgrade of the GPEN website. Included in the new GPEN website launched in January 2014 was a mobile friendly design, a substantially improved library of resources and a new social media campaign to strengthen and expand the community of Global e-crime prosecutors to better meet the increasing challenges posed by e-crime around the world.

Since 2015 GPEN has carried out regional cybercrime training

The GPEN regional training programme has been carried out in order to build trust across borders, building skills, understanding and sustainably by training the trainers:

  • In May 2015, the first GPEN regional training was held in Bahrain and was attended by representatives from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries;
  • In February 2016, joint training was held in Tonga with the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Council of Europe;
  • GPEN held training in Nigeria in May 2016 in conjunction with ECOWAS and Council of Europe;
  • In July 2017, training was held in Mauritius in conjunction with the Council of Europe and Mauritius Government;
  • Training was held in Azerbaijan in October 2017 in conjunction with the Council of Europe and the Azerbaijan Government;
  • In March 2018, GPEN became a partner organization of the DataFocus Conference 2018, the international conference on digital forensics and digital evidence is organised by INsig2 a leading European company in digital forensics; and
  • In June 2018, the newly opened IAP St. Petersburg Office organized with GPEN a regional event for IAP members in the Eurasia region.

Cooperation with other organisations

The IAP/GPEN has also been participating actively since 2012 with the Commonwealth Secretariat through the offices of Elizabeth Howe and Esther George in the development of a cyber security and cyber crime strategy for adoption by Commonwealth Law Ministers in 2014 and in the provision of technical assistance to member countries through the Commonwealth Cyber Crime Initiative.

The IAP/GPEN has also become a partner of the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA)which is a global, not for profit organisation established to channel funding, expertise and assistance directly to assist law enforcement cyber crime units in both domestic and international markets. The IAP/GPEN signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in late 2012 in order to formalise the relationship.

Please note: To access the GPEN forum, library or training materials you need to log in with your International Association of Prosecutors user name and password

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