CYBERCRIME is the biggest threat to Scottish business according to the new chair of the organisation tasked with keeping the country secure for the commercial sector.

Paddy Tomkins was speaking after the board of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) confirmed his appointment as chair.

It also confirmed that the head of financial services group Axa’s customer risk management, Douglas Barnett, will become its vice-chair.

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SBRC chief executive Mandy Haeburn-Little welcomed the appointments and added: “To have two individuals with such incredible experience in these key roles is testament to the good work of the wider team – and the support we’ve received from Scottish SMEs, our members, the Scottish Government and Police Scotland.

“We are working very hard to help Scottish businesses flourish in a secure environment.”

Tomkins was formerly HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland, the senior professional adviser on policing and security to Scottish Government Ministers.

While in that role he was responsible for the independent review of policing in Scotland that led to the creation of Police Scotland, one of the most profound reforms of policing in the UK during the last century.

His other roles included Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police and the Metropolitan Police’s Commander (Crime) for central London.

Tomkins has been on the SBRC board since last year and will replace outgoing chair Alasdair Macfarlane.

Droman, the company Tomkins now heads, provides strategic and project-specific advice on policing, civil contingency and public safety markets in the UK and overseas.

He said: “Alasdair has led the board through very challenging operating conditions, and it is a great tribute to his leadership, wisdom and energy that the SBRC has grown so strongly under his chairmanship.

“I am delighted to be taking on the role at such a critical time for the Scottish business community.

“Undoubtedly, the biggest threat to businesses, indeed to the services and infrastructure that underpin our lives in Scotland, is cybercrime.

“If we do not put cyber security and cyber resilience at the forefront of our thinking in all we do then we risk disruption, loss of intellectual property, financial harm and the undermining of public confidence that is essential a flourishing economy. “Mandy and her team at the SBRC have rightly put improving resilience to cybercrime at the top of their agenda in supporting businesses in Scotland and I look forward to working with them on this vital programme of work.”

Barnett brings with him more than 30 years’ experience in the delivery of risk management in the insurance sector, the last 17 years of which he has spent with Axa.

His time with the company has seen him work on projects across Europe – and he is currently part of the firm’s global loss prevention committee.

Barnett said: “During my comparatively short time on the SBRC board, the business risk landscape in Scotland has continued to evolve with challenges and opportunities.

“I’ve previously worked with the SBRC as a customer and then recommended its services. Since being on the board I am acutely aware of its strengths and the challenges it faces – and I’m excited to be able to contribute to its next chapter in my new role as vice-chair.”