IT pros called to become boys in blue

A European computer security group is lobbying the UK government to employ IT professionals as special constables to hunt down cybercriminals

IT professionals could soon be asked to volunteer their services to police the Internet.

The European Information Society Group (EURIM) is calling on the government to employ the services of IT workers as special constables.

The request has apparently been welcomed by commissioner of the Metropolitan police Sir John Stevens.

"I think we should be using special constables," said chairman of EURIM Brian White, MP. "IT managers could be given special powers. If they were trained in evidence gathering, they could report straight to the Crown Prosecution Service. [They could] secure crime scenes and give records to court, for example."

The recommendations follow findings earlier this year that only 240 people were qualified to work in digital forensics and evidence recovery. EURIM is proposing to increase the number of skilled police officers patrolling the cyber world.

White said that legislation alone was not enough to fight cybercrime, and more had to be done to improve the level of skilled police for the Internet.

As part of EURIM's proposals, White added that the UK needed better methods of reporting cybercrime because local police stations were ill-equipped to handle the task.

EURIM also proposed that some of the barriers to becoming a special constable should be removed, especially for IT specialists.

"One of the things you need to be [to join the special constables] is physically fit," said Philip Virgo, secretary general for EURIM. "There would probably be lots of people who could monitor Internet chat rooms who couldn't police the town on a Friday night. There are lots of boundaries to this that don't need to be there."

EURIM also called for IT specialists to contribute ideas for Internet policing, as the debate for what role the Serious Organised Crime Agency will play will begin over the next few weeks. EURIM said it wanted to use the opportunity to ensure that people had a centralised point of contact when they needed to report a cybercrime.

Currently, the Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit in London has 11 officers.

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