Crime unit will "drop cases"

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Crime unit will "drop cases"

Bill Goodwin
The UK's High-Tech Crime Unit will drop cases against computer criminals rather than risk losing the trust of businesses by disclosing commercially confidential information in court.

The police unit is drawing up contracts that will give businesses guarantees that it will either withhold confidential information during court cases or abandon the prosecution.

The move is designed to encourage firms to overcome a deeply ingrained reluctance to report computer crimes to the police - a trend that has led to a paucity of accurate information on the extent of computer crime in the UK.

Under the new contracts, any information thought sensitive by a business will be wrapped up in a "sensitive schedule" of evidence during the investigation, detective chief superintendent Len Hynds, head of the High-Tech Crime Unit, revealed this week.

"At the time of the prosecution we will take the sensitive schedule to the judge. If we are successful, we can give companies an assurance that it will never be disclosed in court. If the judge rules it is not sensitive, we will negotiate with the Crown Prosecution Service and withdraw the prosecution," he said.

However, the contracts will make it clear that there may be circumstances where the police will be forced to divulge information to comply with human rights legislation, if, for example, there was a threat to life or the privacy of an individual.

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