Soca chief reflects on 'turbulent' first year

The first year of the Serious Organised Crime Agency’s existence has been “a bit turbulent” according to Bill Hughes, the director general of the agency, which is responsibile for investigating hi-tech crime.

The first year of the Serious Organised Crime Agency’s existence has been “a bit turbulent” according to Bill Hughes, the director general of the agency, which is responsibile for investigating hi-tech crime.

Hughes, speaking at the E-crime Congress conference in London, said it had been difficult to maintain the standards set by the High Tech Crime Unit, the previous organisation responsible for computer crime, which sat within the National Crime Squad, part of the Police Force.

Soca is not part of the Police Force, but an executive non-department public body, sponsored by the Home Office. It also encompasses aspects of the National Criminal Intelligence Service and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Some experts said the move watered down the government’s efforts to combat high-tech crime affecting business.

Hughes said: “What’s the first year been like? Like the curate’s egg; good in parts. Other parts a bit turbulent and putting together different cultures has not been easy.

“We have been under the cosh to maintain standards. The HTCU set a 94% of criminal conviction rate; a measure of the quality of cases they put together.”

However, despite the successful conviction rate of the HTCU, Hughes said the increasing use of online technologies by international organised crime gangs meant the law enforcement response had to change. “It did not achieve the long-term impact that isneeded. A new approach was necessary.”

Soca could now take advantage of a range of new legislation designed to combat both high-tech and organised crime as well as forging international alliances with other crime-fighting agencies.

Related article: E-crime policing now part of everyday police work

Related article: Met looks to national role in battle against e-crime

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