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Even the government thinks UK police are Web-stupid

New cyber agency to sort out the mess

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The government is setting up a new police agency to deal with Internet crime. The hi-tech bobbies will tackle the increasing number of criminals that use the Internet to hide from the law.

As we pointed out last week, the UK police haven't got the foggiest when it comes to making Net technology work for them. Criminals who are up on the latest advances appear to have virtual free reign (pun intended).

As long as the requested £51 million in funding comes through, the unit will leap like a tiger and "make bobbies on the beat as familiar with technology as many criminals are becoming". Oh Christ. Anyway, we're hoping that's all bluff and the unit will in fact be a specialist group that gets to grips with the digital revolution (and perhaps advises the government on future Net-based legislation).

It is due to start surfing and nicking in April next year and will, apparently, tie together all the work of regional police forces with folk such as Customs & Excise and the National Criminal Intelligence Unit. They may do better just to pull in the top police bods and start from the ground up.

Mark Castell, who's leading the unit's creation, regurgitated the usual warnings about fraud, paedophiles and drug dealers and threw in a few Cassandras for fun. It will be interesting to see what the political aspect of the high-profile unit is likely to be. We'd also be interested to know where Mark stands on the RIP bill. Still, all good things come to those who wait.

Dirty coppers

In a wonderful piece of irony, The Sun today ran with an exclusive: "PORN-HUNT COPS CRASH COMPUTER." Luton's boys in blue were using their new, online PCs (put there to encourage off-duty familiarity with the Internet) when the system went down and technicians had to be called in. But why? Because when they had tried to access X-rated porn sites, they couldn't get past the filters. So when one of the UK's finest tried to bypass them, he ended up bringing the system down on top of him.

Although worried about their technical ineptitude, The Reg isn't too angry. Let's face it, when we all first started using the Internet, at the first chance we got, we ended up at dirtylove.com or climax.com. Perhaps they can get back to catching the crims now. ®

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