Feeds

Home Office backs e-crime overhaul

One-stop fraud busting shop

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Home Office ministers are poised to give the green light for the establishment of a central e-crime reporting and investigation agency in the UK.

But instead of creating a Policing Central E-Crime Unit (PCEU), as proposed by ACPO (the Association of Chief Police Officers) and the Metropolitan Police, government minsters want to establish the unit as a law enforcement arm of the National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC).

Since the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) was amalgamated with the Serious and Organised Crime Agency two years ago, commercial victims of cybercrime have been obliged to report problems to their local police forces, a situation that often proves unworkable. The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is focused on high-level trans-national crime and only takes reports of cybercrime indirectly.

Policies introduced in April 2006 mean the public is advised to report incidents of credit card or auction fraud to the banks or auction houses instead of the police. This too is working out badly and there's a widespread belief that cybercrimes more often than not go unreported - unlike the US, where the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3.org) acts as a clearing house.

Without a grip on the scope of the e-crime problem resource allocation decisions take place in the absence of solid facts. Parliamentary under secretary of state Vernon Coaker told a House of Lords science and technology committee on Tuesday that the Home Office acknowledged there was a gap in e-crime reporting and cybercrime investigation that needs to be bridged.

"Within reason, the Home Office will look to fund a law enforcement capability alongside the NRFC, but we haven't got a budget for this work yet," the minster said.

"We'd like to see all reports of fraud sent to the NFRC... which would become a one-stop shop for the reporting of fraud. We don't want a multiplicity of centres. We want to bring it together," Coaker told the committee.

Under these revised plans all types of cybercrime - including those that didn't directly involve financial fraud - would be handled by the NFRC. Its investigative arm would tackle enforcement. NFRC would receive a budget of around £15m.

"Different pieces of law enforcement do different things but there is a gap, without a shadow of a doubt. We need NFRC but then alongside that a law enforcement capability. Don't want NFRC to set up a law enforcement arm which didn't relate to other bodies even though in the first few weeks it would gain plaudits with people saying the government is finally funding an e-crime unit," Coaker said.

"The key question to work out what you do at national, regional and local level. National strategic law enforcement needs to act as a catalyst for change," he added.

The approach is very different to previous plans from the police.

Speaking at the Infosec conference last month the Metropolitan Police's head of e-crime, Detective Supt Charlie McMurdie, said a business plan to create a 50-strong Policing Central E-Crime Unit had been submitted and she hoped for an answer within "two to three week"s. The unit would cost about £5m in total. The Home Office was asked to approve £1.3m in start-up funding.

Coaker is to meet representatives from the City of London Police, SOCA's e-crime unit, the Met's Hi-tech Crime Unit, and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre - on 4 June for talks about how such a unit would sit alongside their responsibilities.

The proceedings of Tuesday's House of Lords science and technology committee can be found here. Coaker's testimony (of around 40 minutes) can be found after the 37-minute mark. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.