E-crime: New Police Unit Announced

September 30, 2008

A new Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) has been announced by the Government, designed to provide specialist officer training and coordinate cross-force initiatives to crack down on on-line offences.

The new unit, based in the Metropolitan Police Service, will focus on supporting the new National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC) when it comes into operation in 2009. It will also work closely with other crime-fighting agencies to tackle international and serious organised crime groups operating on the internet. An estimated 80%-90% of crime on the internet (excluding crime relating to children or images of child sexual abuse) is believed to be fraud-related.

E-crime Minister Vernon Coaker said, ‘It is important that we stay one step ahead of criminals who increasingly use sophisticated computer networks and the internet to commit and facilitate crime. The new Police Central e-crime Unit will work closely with the National Fraud Reporting Centre to tackle electronic crime reported to it. This will ensure that the National Fraud Reporting Centre has support in this highly specialised area. The Police Central e-crime Unit will also play a vital role in helping police forces across the country improve skills and techniques needed to clamp down on e-crime.’

Laurence Kaye, Co-Chair of the SCL’s Internet Interest Group,  commented ‘SCL adds to the chorus of welcomes at the news that the Government is to establish a new police central e-crime unit. We do not feel however that the current level of funding properly reflects the social threat posed by such crime and would like to see that sum doubled – given the level of loss that is associated with such crime, another £7.5M does not seem unreasonable. We would hope too that the new PCeU will take the opportunity to co-ordinate fully with the various other enforcement bodies and make full use of the accumulated expertise in the civil sector that has been developed to apprehend wrongdoers and which can be speedily applied to the criminal sphere.’

The PCeU will receive £3.5M of Government funding and £3.9M from the Metropolitan Police Service over three years. The unit will also seek support from industry partners. The unit is expected to be operational in spring 2009. Its creation builds on proposals by ACPO for increasing capacity and capability within the police service to get to grips with modern forms of hi-tech internet crime.
The Met will run the PCeU as a national resource, in conjunction with the National Fraud Reporting Centre and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. The intention is that the PCeU will not overlap with existing organisations such as SOCA’s e-crime unit or with CEOP, both of which have different and separate responsibilities, but that the PCeU and these organisations will communicate regularly and will work together if required.