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Is the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit going to be recreated outside of SOCA ?

The Independent has an article about a Metropolitan Police Service report on "e-crime".

4 January 2007 16:38

Police struggling to cope with rise of cyber-crime
By Jason Bennetto, Crime Correspondent
Published: 24 January 2007

Police cannot cope with the huge rise in cyber-crime, such as computer viruses, fraud and the online grooming of children, Scotland Yard has admitted. And the scale of the problem has become so large that not all allegations can be investigated.

Chief constables are lobbying for funding to set up a national "e-crime" squad to help deal with the growing number of offences, which are costing individuals and the country millions of pounds.

So what happened to the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, which was supposed to do this ?

It got submereged into the Serious Organised Crime Agency, which, unlike say the FBI in the USA, refuses to make it easy for the public to contact them, even to receive tip offs or intelligence. This is especially so regarding computer crimes, something which we noted when SOCA was launched formally in April 2006.

See: "Serious Organised Crime Agency website launch signals a very low priority for Computer Crime"

According to today's report in The Times, SOCA is not communicating as it should with Customs, even regarding its top priority, the investigation of organised gangs of Class A drugs smugglers.

The cost of identity theft to the UK economy alone is £1.7bn a year.

No it does not !,

See Andy Burnham's "£1.7 billon identity fraud" figure is as false as the previous £1.3 billion one"

A report on e-crime by the Metropolitan Police, which deals with the majority of e-crime in the UK, says: "It is widely recognised that e-crime is the most rapidly expanding form of criminality, encompassing both new criminal offences in relation to computers (viruses and hacking etc.) and 'old' crimes (fraud, harassment etc.), committed using digital or computer technology. The MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] assessment is that specialist e-crime units can no longer cope with all e-crime."


The report, written by Detective inspector Charlie McMurdie, of the Metropolitan Police computer crime unit, concludes: "The ability of law enforcement to investigate all types of e-crime locally and globally must be 'mainstreamed' as an integral part of every investigation, whether it be specialist, or murder, robbery, extortion demands, identity theft or fraud.

"Hackers and virus writers have evolved from largely enthusiastic amateur 'criminals' to financially motivated, organised global criminal enterprises. Prosecutions of virus writers and hackers in the UK have been infrequent up to now. However, the motivation of such offenders has now migrated from the curious adolescent to the profile of the financially motivated professional, often with organised crime links."

The Association of Chief Police Officers is currently discussing the setting up of a new national e-crime unit.

There is no definition of "e-crime", according to this Parliamentary Written Answer this week:

23 Jan 2007 : Column 1691W


Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of e-crime. [116702]

Mr. Coaker: This information is not held centrally and collecting it would involve disproportionate costs.

There is no universal definition of e-crime.

Departments do not quantify the cost to them of e-crime and it is not possible to reliably aggregate such costs.

Therefore there are no targets for "e-crime" imposed by the Home Office on Chief Constables, so, inevitably, it gets no priority in terms of budget or manpower resources.

This is borne out by this article in the IT trade paper Computing:

Ecrime efforts stall over staff

Computing probe shows lack of resources in fight against electronic crime
Tom Young, Computing 25 Jan 2007

Senior police officers have criticised high-tech crime measures following a Computing investigation that reveals UK forces lack specialist staff and resources.

More than half of police forces have five or fewer staff dedicated to ecrime, and three forces have none at all, despite being given greater ecrime investigation and reporting responsibilities when the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) was disbanded last April.

Computing contacted every force in the UK. The vast majority of those questioned in ecrime units said paedophile and child abuse cases consume more than 75 per cent of their time. Only six constabularies mentioned working with businesses to tackle ecrime.

One high-tech unit officer says senior management does not understand the dangers of ecrime, estimated by the NHTCU as costing business £2.4bn in 2004.

‘We have a very large backlog of work,’ he said. ‘Trying to convince management that people need training is very difficult because they are not technically minded. Last year they halved our budget and next year they will totally remove it.’

Another senior police officer told Computing that dealing with ecrime is not a high priority for chief constables because it is not immediately visible and they cannot put ‘ticks in boxes’.


When the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) superseded the NHTCU, the idea was for Soca to liaise with the individual constabularies on ecrime cases.

But Rick Naylor, vice president of the Police Superintendents’ Association, said: ‘The overall feeling with the way that Soca deals with police forces is that it has not been as we envisaged it. Local police do not have the same relationship with Soca that they had with the NHTCU.’

Is the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit going to be recreated by ACPO, after it got absorbed by SOCA ?

If so, then who will it report to, and how much of a budget and priority will it get ?

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