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"Mainstreaming" needed for Britain's anti-cybercrime effort
by Konstantin Kornakov | Feb 02 2007 10:06 GMT

The ability of existing cybercrime policing units to fight e-crime in Britain has been put into doubt by a recent report from DCI Charlie McMurdie of the London Metropolitan Police. Cybercrime has been termed in the report as "the most rapidly expanding form of criminality” that is now evident not only in the emergence of new types of crime. New communication technology is also increasingly used in "traditional” crimes. This, combined with the issue of underreporting, creates an atmosphere in which existing cybercrime fighting structures are inadequate in both scope and resources.

One recommendation from DCI McMurdie is to spread IT forensics and anti-cybercrime methods into every investigation, both specialist and general, so that all law enforcement officers are familiar with new techniques and trends. There is also evidence of the need for one single structure that could play its part as the first port of call for complaints regarding cases of cybercrime. However, the National High-Tech Crime Unit has now been absorbed by the Serious Organised Crime Agency, dubbed the "British FBI”. The level of priority given by SOCA to cybercrime has been recently criticised by Microsoft in a presentation to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee enquiry. The situation is currently so strained that recently it has emerged that the police have begun working with cybervigilante groups in an effort to gain more information and intelligence.

The Metropolitan Police is currently undergoing a review process that will serve to highlight issues that need changing in relation to cybercrime. As part of this review several units within the police force that deal with computer crime have been scrutinised, including the Computer Crime Unit, Paedophile Unit, Counter Terrorist Command Intelligence Bureau, Clubs and Vice, Computer Services Laboratory, Professional Standards and Covert Policing Command. With so many different units a key issue becomes the sharing of intelligence and best practices. Until a national cybercrime strategy is agreed upon, though, problems in reporting and investigation will continue plaguing Britain's anti-cybercrime effort.


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