Police to create regional e-crime squads

Police forces across the UK are to collaborate to create regional cybercrime squads.

The move will be led by Janet Williams, deputy assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police and head of the new £7.4 million e-crime unit. The units will operate in a similar way to the anti-terror squads, which were created through link-ups between several police forces.

Under the plans, due to be announced this week, the government is expected to announce a cyber crime fighting centre. A dedicated new unit at the Cabinet Office, also due to be set up, will be headed by “senior civil servant” Neil Thompson, the Independent reported.

A government spokesperson could not be reached for comment about the news or Thompson's background.

It is not yet clear how the cyber security police squads will fit with the Serious Organised Crime Agency, which tackles large scale crime, including cybercrime. But it is thought they will take a lead from the Police Central E-crime Unit, which tackles online fraud and business-related e-crime.

With the limited budget of the Police Central E-crime Unitand the large scale of e-crime – thought to have hit around £50 billion worldwide annually - there have been criticisms that it will be difficult to tackle the problem. The new strategy may be seen by some as an admission that a new way of tackling the problem is needed.

"It has been an ad hoc and piecemeal approach," a senior officer told the Financial Times. "There is a lack of knowledge, particularly among detectives."

Last month, US president Barack Obama said that fighting cybercrime is seen as a “national security priority”, vowing to create a cyber security office in Washington.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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