Industry expects e-crime unit to ‘knock on doors’

I just completed this analysis piece for ZDNet UK around the new Police Central E-crime Unit (PCEU). Thanks to Geoff Donson from Telecity Group for the background and quotes and for the cooperation of Janet Williams from ACPO for answering some tricky questions:

The rise of e-crime is no longer news. But could UK law-enforcement agencies have done more to prevent internet and IT-related crime reaching a value of £6bn per year, the latest figure reported by the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform?

The announcement last month of theformation of the new Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) will be seen by some as an admission that the April 2006 decision to roll the former National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) into the more strategic Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) was a mistake.

The amalgamation was viewed by some as a distraction from the job at hand, just as computer-related crime was becoming more sophisticated and prevalent.

“We had a splendid, long relationship with the NHTCU, but that doesn’t appear to be re-emerging in Soca,” David Roberts, chief executive of industry body the Corporate IT Forum, told ZDNet.co.uk last year. “A lot of the difficulty with Soca is the period of silence [since its formation], which is such a stark contrast to the NHTCU, who were really visible and proactive.”

Asked whether the creation of the PCeU is an acknowledgement that the government got it wrong when it absorbed the NHTCU into Soca, Janet Williams, Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner for the Specialist Crime Directorate, who is heading up the development of the new unit, said that, ultimately, it is not a question she can answer.

“That is a political question and I don’t do those,” she said. “I think police officers should just get on with it.”

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