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Home Office finally approves UK cybercoppers

E-crime unit gets green light but overlap worries remain

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Fast forward five months, and following talks between Coaker and representatives of the City of London Police, SOCA's e-crime unit and the Met's Hi-tech Crime Unit, and a different multi-agency approach emerges, with the PCeU given a role alongside the NFRC in handling reports of cybercrime.

E-crime Minister Vernon Coaker said: "The new PCeU will work closely with the NFRC to tackle electronic crime reported to it. This will ensure that the NFRC has support in this highly specialised area. The PCeU will also play a vital role in helping police forces across the country improve skills and techniques needed to clamp down on e-crime."

Senior officers from ACPO, the City of London Police and SOCA all chipped in to the Home Office release, praising the upcoming creation of the PceU.

All well and good, but it's worth noting that friction between officers at the NHTCU and the Met's Hi-tech Crime Unit - who often privately (and with justification) complained of lack of funding in comparison to the results they achieved - was commonplace in the past, and it looks as if this may be repeated in the future. The PceU will "focus on supporting the new National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC) when it comes into operation in 2009," according to the Home Office.

More famously there were conflicts between Special Branch at the former Royal Ulster Constabulary and MI5 over responsibilities for the fight against terrorism in Northern Ireland in the 80s and 90s.

The Home Office, however, is at pains to dismiss suggestions of overlapping responsibilities between the multiple police agencies charged with fighting cybercrime.

"The Met will run the PCeU as a national resource, in conjunction with the National Fraud Reporting Centre and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. The PCeU will not overlap with existing organisations such as SOCA's e-crime unit or with CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre), both of which have different and separate responsibilities, but the PCeU and these organisations will communicate regularly and will work together if required," it said. ®

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