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The Metropolitan Police have confirmed their budget for battling cybercrime nationally has been slashed by the Home Office.

The Register revealed on Friday that central government funding for the Police Central eCrime Unit (PCeU) had been quietly cut by 30 per cent.

A spokeswoman for the Met said the PCeU had been targeted as part of the coalition government's initial £6bn batch of cuts, announced on 24 May.

"It has been confirmed that the Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) will not receive the planned £1m uplift in funding from the Home Office next year," she said.

According to original spending plans, the PCeU was due to receive £3.5m from the Home Office next year.

"Funding will remain at the same level as for 2009/10," said the Met.

Along with other senior officers, Janet Williams, the Met deputy assistant commissioner in charge of PCeU and national cybercrime policing policy through ACPO, argued that the unit was underfunded when it was set up and called for expansion. The deep cut less than two years into its operations means it will not reach even its originally planned capability.

"The planned uplift in funding was to improve our ACPO national mainstream law enforcement capability, as well as providing essential training and crucial IT infrastructure within the PCeU," said the Met's spokeswoman.

"Without this additional funding the growth of our capability will be restricted, however we remain committed to our existing work in this area at current funding levels."

The Met will also divert some of its own funds to the unit to make up some - but nowhere near all - of the shortfall.

Cuts are expected across policing following the Budget next week, but the fact that the fight against the multibillion-pound cybercrime industry was sacrificed to the very first swing of the axe will be interpreted to mean that despite successes - and pre-election rhetoric - the issue is still viewed as a low priority in Whitehall. ®

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