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Top e-crime cop to plead for more cash

Home Office unmoved

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The woman in charge of policing online fraud in the UK plans to use the first operational year of the new Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) to make the case for more funding.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Janet Williams, the Association of Chief Police Officers' lead on e-crime, said this week the PCeU wanted more than the £3.5m over three years allocated by the Home Office in October.

The PCeU is also funded by further £3.9m over three years from the Metropolitan Police budget. "This is not a lot of money," Williams said.

She added that the new group of 50 e-crime investigators would aim in its first year to demonstrate the impact of online fraud on the public and business. "I believe that if we can measure the harm... we will prove our case to expand.

"That is my major objective over the next year," she said.

Today a Home Office spokesman said there would be no more money available in the next three years. "The PCeU will receive £3.5m of Government funding and £3.9m from the Metropolitan Police Service over three years. There are no plans for an increase," he added.

The PCeU was created to fill the gap left in 2006, when the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit was folded into the new Serious and Organised Crime Agency and then disbanded. The government was heavily criticised by parliamentarians, industry figures and academics over the lack of any central recording or investiugative unit battling the growth of e-crime.

From its base at Scotland Yard, the PCeU will work closely with a new National Fraud Reporting Centre, run by the City of London Police. It will record and analyse e-crime reports from across the country in order to feed intelligence to investigating police and authorities such as the Serious Fraud Office and Financial Services Authority.

Williams also appealed to industry representatives at the conference to share equipment and expertise with the PCeU to help cover its perceived funding shortfall. She added that it will always be impossible to investigate all e-crime no matter what resources are available. ®

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