PUPILS are to be taught about the rise of cyber crime as part of a new drive to generate interest in computer science lessons.

Events are to be held for schools across Scotland this week to address a worrying decline in the number of pupils studying the subject.

Under the initiative, run by industry experts and university academics and backed by Police Scotland and the Scottish Government, pupils will see demonstrations of some of the most notable examples of recent cyber crime and how they were foiled.

The significant and lucrative job opportunities that currently exist in the field will also be highlighted at the events which take place in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness.

The move comes against a backdrop of growing concern that take-up of computer science at school has been disappointing with the number of specialist teachers also in freefall.

In February, the National Audit Office estimated the annual cost of cyber crime to the UK at between £18 billion and £27 billion.

At the same time, eight per cent of the country's GDP is the direct product of the internet economy, a greater contribution than in any other G20 country.

Martin Beaton, from Edinburgh University's School of Informatics, who helped organise the event, called for a greater focus on computer science.

He said "The subject is withering and we need to establish why the number of pupils taking it and the number of teachers teaching it are in decline when it is such an important growth area.

"We know that pupils may have a perception that computer science can be a boring subject and we hope that by linking it to the world of hacking and cyber security then that will spark an interest and have a knock-on effect on the numbers taking up the subject."

James Lyne, one of the event speakers from internet security firm Sophos, said the lack of awareness of the job opportunities in tackling cyber crime was surprising.

"There is a huge gap between the needs of the industry and the numbers going into it at the moment," he said.

"It is critical that we get the next generation of talent available to us with the right skills because it is an industry that is vital to us in terms of tackling crime and protecting our economy."

Detective Superintendent Stephen Wilson, from Police Scotland, added: "Crime is going down, but cyber crime is on the increase and it is something of which we all need to be aware.

"We are now seeing businesses of all different sizes being hit by various forms of cyber crime and there is a desperate need for experts in this field in the future."

Last month, it emerged there was a sharp drop fall in the number of computing science teachers in Scotland.

The latest figures show teacher numbers in the subject have fallen by 109 in the past two years - a drop of 14 per cent.

One in eight secondary schools in Scotland do not have a computing science specialist at all.

At the time Kate Farrell, co-chair of professional support body Computing At School Scotland, which collated the figures, said pupils were being "sold out".

The warning follows widespread concerns that too many schools teach computing in a passive way and do not make students aware of the career opportunities available. Some schools have even closed their computer science departments, blaming a lack of interest.

In 2011, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said the UK was throwing away its "great computer heritage" by failing to teach programming.

And in 2012 Ian Livingstone, co-author of a report on the future of the UK gaming industry, said Scottish schools should give computer science the same prominence as chemistry physics and mathematics.