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SOCA budgets £500m to revamp IT systems

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The UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has budgeted up to £500m on plans to upgrade its IT systems for the 21st century.

Between £300m and £500m will be spent on projects focused on replaced outdated legacy systems with an integrated system as part of the 2010 Programme. Tenders are invited with awards expected to be granted from 20 January.

News of the awards came through the tenders document portal maintained by the European Union. The size and likely complexity of the project means a consortium is likely to be involved rather than a single supplier. SOCA hopes to have updated systems in place by the start of 2011, a UK public service portal adds.

SOCA was formed in April 2006 through the merger of the National Crime Squad, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), the drugs investigative arm of HM Revenue & Customs, and people trafficking unit of the Immigration Service. Drug dealing and organised immigration crime are its top priorities. The agency also has a role in fighting cybercrime, but it only takes reports indirectly and focuses even then only on high-level international crime.

The lack of a decent reporting and investigative structure in the UK for dealing with routine auction fraud and hacking attacks spurred plenty of criticism and spurred plans to establish a central police e-crime Unit(PCeU). After months of lobbying the Home Office granted it the go ahead early next year with a budget of just £7.5m over three years.

The unit will specialise in computer forensics training and in shepherding efforts to fight internet fraud across multiple police forces. It will also have a role alongside the new National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC) in handling e-crime reports. ®

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