Feeds

UK police chiefs mull regional cybercrime squads

We're the eSweeney son, and we ain't had any dinner

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

British police chiefs are drawing up plans to set up regional "cybercrime" squads along the lines of existing teams tasked to handle anti-terror operations.

The idea - still in its formative stages - is the brainchild of the Association of Chief Police Officers, and reflects concern that existing efforts are not enough to keep auction fraud, malware, hacking and other forms of cybercrime in check, the FT reports.

Government plans to develop a national cyber-security strategy, more details on which are expected to emerge later this week, are likely to include plans to create a new Cabinet Office unit.

Meanwhile, senior police chiefs are separately debating the prospects of establishing regional e-crime squads and to provide better training for regular police officers in how to handle reports on cybercrime.

An ACPO spokeswoman confirmed that the FT's take on the plan, discussed during a recent conference, is broadly accurate. "We are trying to develop a more consistent approach to handling cybercrime as part of the development of an e-crime strategy," she told El Reg.

"How many regional cybercrime squads there might be, or where they will be based, is yet to be determined. The plan needs to be ratified by ACPO before I can go into details."

A timetable for ratification is not available as such, but the spokeswoman hinted that this would happen in a matter of weeks rather than months.

Members of the public and businesses have long complained that cybercrime reporting structures in the UK are confusing at best. Consumers hit by fraud have been pointed towards their bank or online auction house, for example. Corporates have no obvious point of contact, especially after the NHTCU was folded into SOCA three years ago.

"It has been an ad hoc and piecemeal approach," one senior officer told the FT. "There is a lack of knowledge, particularly among detectives."

Janet Williams, head of intelligence and covert policing at the Metropolitan Police, is pushing ACPO's e-crime strategy. It's hoped that regional cybercrime units could take some pressure off the new Police Central e-Crime Unit, whose modest £7.4m three-year budget has been criticised by some observers as insufficient.

The proposed cybercrime squads would take their lead from the Scotland Yard-based PCeU, mimicking the type of structure already in place to combat terrorism.

The PCeU has established partnerships with the banking industry to run virtual task-forces, an idea partially hampered by reluctance on the part of banks to share information. Still, police chiefs are optimistic this model could be expanded to partnerships with retailers and property companies, who have also suffered from the rise in cybercrime.

The strategy of establishing regional e-crime squads and nationwide training of front-line officers is seen as a way of plugging gaps in a national strategy to combat cybercrime, which is still in the process of being implemented. Policing structures in Britain for tackling cybercrime are already complex (as we've noted before), even without factoring in the regional cybercrime squad idea.

It may well be that regional Computer Crime Units (which already exist in larger forces such as Greater Manchester and the West Midlands) become regional cybercrime squads without adding any extra complexity, but since the whole scheme is still in flux, that's speculation on our part. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.