Government ignores e-crime in spending plan, says Lords select committee member

The government has promised £11m to fund three bodies to fight fraud, but appears to be ignoring e-crime.

The government has promised £11m to fund three bodies to fight fraud, but appears to be ignoring e-crime.

The Comprehensive Spending Review published last week earmarked £11m to fund a National Fraud Strategic Authority, a Lead Police Force, and a National Fraud Reporting Centre.

But there was no specific mention of support for the e-Crime Unit of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

The Home Office budget will rise from £9.2bn to £10.3bn, with an extra £220m set aside by 2010-11 for counter-terrorism work.

A Home Office spokesman said decisions on specific allocations will be made in the next few months.

Last week, Paul Evans, executive director of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, said many fraudsters are organised criminals who use the internet to distribute e-mail spam to lure victims. The money they get from scams is reinvested in more serious crimes such as drug dealing, people smuggling and terrorism.

Such frauds are "e-enabled". But police might ignore other "e-enabled" crimes such as extortion from DDoS attacks, theft or destruction of intellectual property from hacking or viruses.

Lord Erroll, a member of the House of Lords select committee on science and technology, said the government "would be mad to ignore e-crime".

"If there is not an element to deal with e-crime they are wasting their breath," he said. "They would be missing a huge opportunity to improve Britain as an e-enabled country capable of delivery trusted e-commerce and e-government services."

In August the select committee called on the Home Office to provide "without delay" the funds to kick-start a centralised police e-crime unit. Computer Weekly reported earlier ACPO's unit was looking for £4.5m. Commander Sue Wilkinson, who headed the unit, is now on secondment in Australia.

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