Police chief's departure won't halt e-crime plans

Development of a centralised e-crime unit for the police will continue, despite the departure of its main proponent, commander Sue Wilkinson

The development of a centralised e-crime unit is to go ahead, the Metropolitan Police has said, despite the departure of the project's main proponent.

Commander Sue Wilkinson has been leading a project that aims to create a Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU), to which businesses will be able to report incidents of cybercrime.

Wilkinson, who currently holds the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) portfolio for e-crime, will shortly leave the Met to transfer to an overseas post.

The assistant commissioner of the Specialist Crime Directorate, Steve House, will be Wilkinson's interim replacement. House is "committed in ensuring that MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] addresses the issues raised by e-crime and [that] the related projects are driven forward," according to the Met. A permanent replacement for Wilkinson is expected to be selected in early 2008.

The Met was quick to reassure businesses that plans for a PCeU would go ahead. "The MPS will continue to strive to obtain public and private funding for the proposed Police Central e-Crime Unit. The unit continues to receive support from both government and industry as the central co-ordination unit for England and Wales," said a Met statement.

Currently, businesses have no centralised police unit to report e-crime to. The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) used to co-ordinate e-crime reports until it was subsumed into the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

SOCA was formed in May 2006 as an amalgamation of the NHTCU, National Crime Squad (NCS), National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) and a part of UK Immigration dealing with organised immigration crime (UKIS).

However, SOCA does not co-ordinate e-crime reports unless they are deemed to be serious crimes. This means that there is currently no co-ordinated police response for smaller crimes.

Businesses are urged to report e-crime to local police services, but these local units are being overwhelmed, the Met said earlier this year. And there is currently no centralised mechanism for collecting and collating e-crime statistics, making it difficult to gauge the scale of the problem.

"There is a need for law enforcement to mainstream knowledge and training around e-crime," Wilkinson said in a statement. "There is also a need for the co-ordination of intelligence, emerging threats and tasking of appropriately experienced and trained response teams around e-enabled crime. I see the Police Central e-Crime Unit as delivering on these issues through public and private partnership. E-crime is a growing challenge for all of us and we must work together to fight the organised criminals who impact on our daily lives both in our homes and at work."


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