Feeds

UK police lack e-crime savvy officers

No-one to slap on the e-cuffs

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A hi-tech skills crisis in law enforcement threatens to set back the wider fight against crime, a report out today warns.

e-crime is on the rise and digital evidence is playing a greater and greater role in mainstream criminal investigations. There are around 140,000 police officers in the UK. Barely 1,000 of them have been trained to handle digital evidence at the basic level and fewer than 250 are currently with Computer Crime Units or have higher level forensic skills. Add in the civilian staff of the Forensic Science Service and its contractors and the pool of full-time expertise is still under 400.

An e-crime study from lobby group EURIM and think tank IPPR out today warns of a mounting backlog of e-crimes awaiting investigation and a shortage of skilled personnel able to tackle them. Delays of six to 12 months have become common as police resources are tied up with major investigation such as Operation Ore - the prosecution of an estimated 7,000 UK users of a US child porn portal.

eVigilante risk

"Computer assisted extortion, fraud and impersonation, however great the damage, are on the back burner. Any attempt to change the situation requires change to both the skill levels available and the priorities for deployment," writes David Harrington, author of EURIM's report Supplying the Skills for Justice.

The mounting backlog has led to increased reluctance of by local forces to launch new investigations, which could in turn result in public disillusionment with the law enforcement system. The study warns that if nothing is done people might resort to vigilante tactics. “We face a very real risk of seeing the democratically accountable policing of computer-assisted crime replaced by a combination of vigilante action and the covert privatisation of legitimate investigation,” the study warns.

The launch of the EURIM/IPPR e-crime study in Westminster today brought together industry representatives, police and politicians to discuss ways of tackling the problem before it gets out of hand.

Trusted link

Making greater use of an estimated 8,000 security experts in the private sector is seen as crucial for progress.

Too few police officers have received the necessary training and there is a confusion of qualifications and standards among the civilians who might be called upon to assist. The report calls for the new Criminal Justice Sector Skills Council – Skills for Justice – to sort out the mess and become the lead agency in certifying training courses. This, together with a formal process for assessing and certifying skill levels and competencies of investigators, is seen as the best way to bring more people in to tackle the problem.

UK science and technology company QinetiQ agrees that the criminal justice system needs to exploit private sector expertise to defeat cyber criminals. It argues that because courts need to be sure of the integrity of evidence private sector private sector operatives need to become a "trusted link in the criminal justice chain", working to a robust set of standards. QinetiQ reckons the battle against cybercrime needs to be fought in the boardrooms as well as through the court and criminal justice system.

Neil Fisher, QinetiQ’s director of security solutions and vice chair of the UK’s Information Assurance Advisory Council, said: "The issue of forensic readiness is not one to be grasped solely by the criminal justice system. Companies have a duty of care to their shareholders and employees, just as public bodies have a duty to the taxpayer, to take the issue of cyber crime seriously, both in terms of protecting against the threat and also of being in a position to respond in a way that best guarantees a result in the courts once a crime has been committed." ®

Related stories

E-crime costs UK business billions
MPs urged to reform cybercrime laws
Small.biz told to swot up on Net security
My sysadmin is a special constable
UK.gov announces hi-tech elite police squad
The rise of the white collar hacker

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.