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AFP unites last tech units in fight against cybercrime

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) yesterday finalised the restructuring of its high tech crimes division, with the announcement that the force's final two independent technical units have been amalgamated with High Tech Crimes Operations.
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Written by Marcus Browne on

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) yesterday finalised the restructuring of its high tech crimes division, with the announcement that the force's final two independent technical units have been amalgamated with High Tech Crimes Operations.

The national law enforcement agency had maintained two independent online crime departments: the Australian High Tech Crimes Centre (AHTCC) and the Online Child Sex Exploitation Team (OCSET) until June last year, when the two merged to become Australian Federal Police High Tech Crimes Operations, headed up by AFP chief of staff and assistant commissioner Andrew Colvin.

Both departments had operated autonomously from each other and were separately funded until last year's amalgamation was introduced in an attempt to streamline the forces' online investigative and technical capabilities.

An AFP spokesperson said the merger had been finalised yesterday as the last independent remnants of OCSET -- the child sex tourism and technical operations business areas -- moved into the headquarters of the consolidated High Tech Crimes Operations division.

While the AHTCC had investigated the bulk of online crimes including online fraud, identity theft, phishing and other scams, OCSET was a specialist unit designated to investigate child pornography and cyber predators.

Both units had also committed to overseas operations through the virtual global taskforce, and in the specific case of AHTCC through an enduring presence in India before the merger. AHTCC also intends to establish a permanent centre of operations there.

Today's report comes after claims earlier this year that the force's capacity to fight cybercrime at home was being drained by overseas deployments, along with the commandeering of High Tech Crimes staff to apply their skills in other AFP investigations.

Australian Federal Police Association CEO, Jim Toor, told ZDNet.com.au in January that the AHTCC "was unable to patch up the vacancies caused by the deployments overseas as quickly as they occurred".

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