Metropolitan Police announces new dedicated e-crime unit
Home Office E-crime Minister Vernon Coaker has announced the formation the Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU), a new unit of the Metropolitan Police. The new unit will support the new National Fraud Reporting Centre and work with other crime-fighting agencies, as well as providing specialist officer training.
The unit will be jointly funded with £3.5m of government money and £3.9m from the Metropolitan Police over three years. Apart from images of child abuse, fraud is estimated to constitute 80-90 per cent of online criminal activity, said the Home Office announcement. The Association of Chief Police Officers' lead for e-crime, Janet Williams, said that she was delighted by the move.
The UK's previous specialist police unit for dealing with electronic and internet criminal activity, the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), founded as a result of an ACPO initiative, ceased to exist on 1st April 2006. It was rolled into the new Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the so-called "British FBI", whose top priorities were to combat the Class A drugs trade and immigration offences.
SOCA lacked the NHTCU's Confidentiality Charter. The purpose of this was to encourage companies to report crimes without fear of negative publicity. Since SOCA made no such guarantee, businesses were told to report incidents to their local police station, meaning that they would be dealing with police staff with no training in online and internet-related issues. It is not yet clear to what degree the PCuE will be able to fill the NHTCU's shoes.