Without private sector funding, a proposed national police unit to fight computer crime could face delays of up to two years, the police officer leading the initiative has warned.
The National E-Crime Co-ordination Unit will train police, collect intelligence and investigate IT security breaches, which cost UK businesses £10bn last year, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report for the Department of Trade & Industry.
In an exclusive interview with Computer Weekly, Sue Wilkinson, e-crime lead at the Association of Chief Police Officers and chief architect of the initiative, called on the private sector to help get the £4.5m scheme off the ground.
Wilkinson said she had received political agreement to set up the unit, but there was a shortfall in funding of at least £1m.
"If I had the money, I could launch it by December," she said. The lack of funding meant it could take 18 to 24 months to get the unit up and running, she said.
Wilkinson said the Metropolitan Police could contribute the £1.5m it spends fighting e-crime to the new unit. And she hoped that the UK's 43 local police forces would contribute the £1.3m they receive for their e-crime units. "We are preparing the business case for them now," she said.
Wilkinson has also applied for £336,000 from the European Commission.
She invited businesses to contribute expertise and technology to the National E-Crime Co-ordination Unit. "We have lots of areas where they can contribute," she said.
Detective chief inspector Charlie McMurdie, who heads operations at the Met's e-crime unit, said the proposed national unit was looking for help with programmes for CCTV, PC awareness, basic training, search and seizure of data, and to train staff who receive calls about e-crime.
McMurdie said she would welcome technical experts such as data analysts and network engineers who might like to serve as special constables.
Wilkinson said training in the use of computers to detect and investigate crime would be part of constables' basic training in the future.
She added that digital technology was increasingly part of general crime, and a key task for the e-crime unit would be to "mainstream" knowledge of the role technology can play in committing or facilitating crime.
Wilkinson said that crimes such as hacking and denial of service attacks did not fit into traditional policing formats. Unlike other crimes, a single exploit could harm tens of thousands of victims worldwide in a few minutes. This required a different, intelligence-based approach, she said.
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