Infosec 08: Met officer outlines e-crime unit

One of the Metropolitan Police's top officers spoke about plans for a new central e-crime unit, and said that 5.3 million funding would be needed which she hoped would be available 'sooner rather than later."

A last-minute change to the timetable at Infosec 2008 saw Metropolitan Police Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdie outline plans for the new unit, which was now in the process of acquiring funding, from the police, government and vendors.

"I'm fairly convinced that we are going to get that money, one way or another," McMurdie said.

"The unit needs about 50 staff, not all police officers but people from industry as well," she said, stating that the Met police had already budgeted 1.3 million.

It was hoped that the Home Office would be able to match this funding, but also that financial support would come from industry and vendors.

Philip Virgo, secretary general for EURIM and who chaired the meeting, said that in the US, two thirds of the funding from its equivalent e-crime unit came from industry.

McMurdie said the unit was vital because it was almost impossible for the police to handle e-crime with its present structure. The new venture would be a 'Police Central e-crime Unit', or PCeU.

Before the Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCA) was established, there was a National High-Tech Crime Unit, but this was absorbed into the larger organisation. According to many observers, the e-crime policing function has largely vanished.

Paul Simmonds, chief information officer for chemicals firm ICI, spoke at the keynote about how a central e-crime unit would be highly beneficial for the security industry, and that the current e-crime enforcement was virtually non-existent.

He said: "I won't names, but there was a major British financial organisation saying: 'Since the demise of the National High-Tech Crime Unit, the instructions are that we should ring up our local police force'."

"This is a major high-street financial organisation that has a major issue with credit cards ringing up its police force and reporting as advised," he said.

"The police force said, as you could imagine, 'what are we supposed to do about it?'."

Simmonds said that the industry was losing millions of pounds thanks to e-crime every year, with figures from APACS showing a 25 per cent year on year increase on the fraudulent use of credit cards.

He said: "That's yours and my credit cards, so guess who's paying for it folks. It's us."

Earlier this month, the conservative shadow home secretary David Davis criticised the government's e-crime plans, calling it a "mistake".

For more Infosec 2008 coverage, see IT PRO's roundup page here.