As the world around us changes, the threats we face as communities change.

Policing has to adapt to deal with the emerging ways criminals will take advantage, cause harm and attack the safety and security of our society.

From satellite navigation devices in cars to games consoles and mobile phones which become ever-smarter with every new model issued, advances in digital technology are part of our daily lives. The ease with which we can all use the internet means new frontiers have opened up for law enforcement and for criminals.

Such technological advances provide criminals with new avenues for their activity but also provide law enforcement with opportunities to disrupt and detect those responsible.

That's why Police Scotland, supported by the Scottish Police Authority, is creating a hub to tackle cyber-crime. The new facility will focus on crimes reported from across the East of Scotland but the investigators who work there will support policing across Scotland and will have a global reach.

The hub creates a modern and resilient location to support local policing teams through increased access to specialist investigators who carry out complex examinations of mobile phones, hard drives and other equipment which helps build an evidential picture to support criminal inquiries.

While a single mobile phone or SIM card might relate to an investigation reported from a specific location in Scotland, the information it can provide can span the world.

We know that crimes that take place in Scotland can be orchestrated from anywhere in the world. We have undertaken numerous investigations into financial criminality, extortion and child abuse which have shone a light into this dark side of the internet.

Cybercrime can show itself in many guises; very few investigations will not have an element of inquiry relating to telephones, computers or other hardware which could contain vital evidential data.

There has been a near-50 per cent increase in the demand for digital forensic examination, from interrogating mobile phones used by drug dealers, analysis of laptops or internet usage in child sexual exploitation cases or complex financial transactions in fraud cases.

We have also seen an increase in the use of social media, which can give rise to everything from on-line bullying to radicalisation by extremists.

Investigation and prevention of online child sexual exploitation are among our highest priorities. We've been at the forefront on the use of innovation and new, proactive technologies to identify those who present a threat to our children. As a consequence, almost two-thirds of the work of digital forensic units involves investigation into indecent images of children.

All of this illustrates why cybercrime has been designated as a significant threat to the United Kingdom alongside international terrorism, military crisis and natural disasters. Our ability to respond to such threats is vital. That's why we're creating a smarter, more effective and resilient response.

The model of specialist investigators supporting local policing is one that Police Scotland has developed to keep people safe. It's a model that has striking similarities to the provision of health services in how it keeps people well. The local GP is the person you visit initially when you feel unwell and they make an onwards referral to more specialist care, depending on what the problem is. Likewise, in policing, that initial report is made to local policing officers; if the problem requires a more specialised response, it's there when needed.

We recognise the increasing dependence that our communities have on the internet and have developed the Safer Virtual Communities strategy to keep people safe online. We will police the virtual communities citizens live in, enforcing, preventing and reassuring them as we would on the streets of Scotland.

The cyber response capability of Police Scotland will also be a fundamental part of the wider Scottish cyber resilience strategy to protect communities, prevent crime and maximise benefits to the Scottish economy. The hub will be a centre of excellence that will also allow for more effective integration with key partners in academia and business. This has the potential to turn the cyber threat into a significant opportunity that will be of major benefit to the people of Scotland.

Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, Crime and Operational Support, Police Scotland.