Combatting Internet crime: a cybercop for every force



Bill Goodwin

The Government is to invest £25m to fund a high-tech crime unit dedicated to fighting hackers, Internet fraudsters,...



Bill Goodwin

The Government is to invest £25m to fund a high-tech crime unit dedicated to fighting hackers, Internet fraudsters, paedophiles and other cyber criminals.

The unit will deploy up to 80 cybercops across the UK, and enable every police force to have at least one investigator with expert knowledge of the Internet, the Home Office said.

"It is part of our effort to make the UK one of the best and the safest places in the world to conduct e-commerce. Modern technologies such as the Internet offer up huge legitimate benefits but also powerful opportunities for criminals," said home secretary Jack Straw.

The unit, which will begin work in April, draws together, the National Criminal and Intelligence Service, the National Crime Squad, Customs and Excise, the Association of Chief Police Officers and local police forces.

One of its key tasks will be to persuade businesses, who have been reluctant to report hacking attacks in the past, to be more open about the problems they are facing.

Despite the cash injection, the unit has been given only a cautious welcome by IT users, who claim that its resources will be tiny compared to the scale of the problem.

"Even if you take the new money they have been given, add in the funding of the computer unit at Scotland Yard and units in local police forces, you still add up to the less than the e-security operations of high street banks," said Philip Virgo, secretary general of IT lobby group Eurim.

Computer Weekly revealed earlier this year that ministers had turned down initial requests by the National Criminal and Intelligence Service (NCIS) for a £50m cash injection for the unit.

Straw said that the money on offer, together with a 10% increase in budgets for local police forces, represented one of the largest increases in police spending for years.

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