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Europe's police forces lack the equipment and training needed to tackle cybercrime, Interpol claims.

Juergen Storbeck, who is head of Europol, the European branch of the international police agency Interpol, told a conference of law enforcement officers last week that police need more equipment, better training and more effective international communication in order to beat Internet crime.

Agence France-Presse reports that Storbeck called for investigators, judges and prosecutors to receive special training on Internet crime, which he suggested required different skills to investigate and deal with in court. He also asked for better international communication, which he suggested, was needed to stamp out online pornography and fraud.

Storbeck's comments come after the heavy US Congress criticism of the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NPIC), the FBI's cybersleuth division. Among other things a report by the US Congress General Accounting Office criticised the NPIC for failing to come up with timely warnings and for "lack of expertise" in fulfilling its main function of helping America defend itself against cyberattack

Neil Barrett, technical director of Information Risk Management, who has a long history in advising the police on Internet security, said he believed British efforts in tackling cybercrime had so far fared better then those of law enforcers across the Atlantic.

Last month Britain created a National Hi-Tech Crime Unit which has received £25 million in Home Office funding and employs 40 specialised officers, headed by detective chief superintendent Len 'Lucky' Hynds.

Barrett said that Britain had a "more focused team" than employed by the FBI and this was one of the reasons the country was getting more out of efforts to combat cybercrime.

That said he said that Storbeck had hit on some real issues. According to Barrett, it's not easy to keep up to date with the latest systems which means although police have all the equipment they need to carry out computer forensic work on NT workstations they don't have a refined capability to deal with handhelds.

Barrett added that better international co-operation between law enforcement officers was needed but it was even more important to get the backing of the IT industry and to encourage users to report crime. ®

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