North East Business Resilience Centre director Supt. Rebecca Chapman.
Jane Imrie

Meet The MD: North East Business Resilience Centre director Supt. Rebecca Chapman on supporting SMEs in the fight against cybercrime

Police veteran Supt. Rebecca Chapman has a pivotal role in uniting law enforcement and business protection across the North East and Yorkshire.

Following a trip to a Scottish cybercrime centre last year, Rebecca spearheaded the creation of the North East Business Resilience Centre (NEBRC).

As director of the NEBRC, Rebecca supports SMEs across the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber with cybercrime awareness and prevention.

Rebecca took the time to speak with Bdaily about her career journey, entering the business world and the digitally-led future of SME resilience.

Can you tell the readers about yourself first of all - i.e. your background, where you are from etc?

“I was born in Wakefield near Ottawa in Canada but came here when I was four. I grew up in Sheffield and after A-levels went on an accelerated management scheme for TopShop. I then spent 6 years in retail management in various cities before joining the police in South Yorkshire in 1993.

“I started in Sheffield city centre as a uniformed officer and moved roles into CID, neighbourhood teams, custody and legal services. I’ve done many roles over the years in performance, policy, district policing and project management.

“In more recent years I’ve been the director of intelligence where I first became involved in cybercrime and digital forensics.

“I am now a T/Superintendent seconded onto a team which pulls together collaborative opportunities across the NE regional forces stretching from Newcastle down to Hull. As part of this I find myself director of the North East Business Resilience Centre (NEBRC).

“I do have to return to the force periodically to carry out cadre duties such as PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) Authorities, firearms and CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) command and I’m a post incident manager and chair of the Women’s Network.

“I’ve been married for 20 years to a retired officer, we have two teenage kids and a dog.”

What does your role entail?

“Day-to-day operational responsibility for the NEBRC, but I also manage the regional digital forensics collaboration, forensic collision collaboration and cyber crime as it sits under the national programme funded by the Home Office.

“The NEBRC involves speaking to partners, police and universities as well as our consultants BRIM (Business Resilience International Management) and our PR company MK.

“We are constantly trying to find new messaging and protect advice for the SMEs in our region, and seek new intelligence from our partners and police contacts which will help in the fight against cyber crime.

“Running a startup business is very interesting but also extremely hard work as we try to stay topical and current and well informed for our members.”

When was the NEBRC set up, and how has it grown since then?

“I first went to see the Scottish centre in February 2019, came back enthused and approached the NPCC (National Police Chiefs’ Council) lead, Chief Constable Goodman, for funding from the national cyber build programme. We built it from April 2019 and launched in November 2019, but it was only recently registered as a limited company.

“Initially it was myself and a DI [Detective Inspector] called Steve Leach. Now we have another DI, Martin Wilson, who covers the North East, while Steve is based in Yorkshire. We have our greatest asset Lizzie Buckler, who is our client relations manager and keeps us all administratively organised.

“We also have our brilliant ethical hacking students, nine from Northumbria University and nine from Sheffield Hallam University. Next year we hope to grow into other business areas to follow the Scottish model but for now we are concentrating on cybercrime.”

What is it about your organisation that motivates and excites you the most?

“The fact that it’s one of the first in the country and we are paving the way for other similar centres, all of which will come online this year.

“We deliberately left the door open by calling it a business resilience centre rather than just cybercrime, as we fully intend to move into other areas.

“The future of all that excites me, as I can see how it will assist our hard working police forces tackle things such as road safety, night time economy, safe supply chain, retail and tourism, organised crime, illicit goods and potentially fraud.

“It’s been a great project to be involved in as a police officer, as we have little to do with running a business and this has provided me with that opportunity. I want the centre to be the ‘go to’ place for cyber advice for businesses in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber.”

Looking back on the past year, what has been your biggest achievement?

“Recruiting all our amazing board and advisory group members: myself and Mandy Haeburn-Little from BRIM, our consultants around the region and indeed, the country seeking our dream team members who all agreed to come on board.

“I’m humbled by how many fantastic leaders we have on our side who had the vision of the centre long before it properly existed but decided to come on board and help get it going.

“I’m proud to say that we have a fantastic relationship with them and we are all pulling in the same direction to help the business community in our region.”

What does the future hold for your company? Any exciting projects in the pipeline we should know about?

“We like to keep it fresh so there are new campaigns coming each month and we are building a library of vlogs from the centre and our partners which will only be accessible to paying members.

“We also have our first trusted partners on board and they will be a body of companies that we will be able to refer members to for cyber security work – this will also provide police protect officers with a place to direct businesses to for the first time.

“Our students are raring to go with a list of services but I’m really looking forward to our webinar launch on Friday 12th June at 12pm – this is to replace the seven events we had planned pre COVID-19.”

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