Security experts petition government on e-crime

Security experts petition government on e-crime

Dedicated IT police force needed again

Leading security experts have started an online petition on the 10 Downing Street website calling for the establishment of a police division devoted exclusively to electronic crime.

The petition has already been signed by Lord Toby Harris, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Policing and treasurer of the Parliamentary Information Technology Committee.

Other signatories include Andrew Yeomans, vice president of global information security at investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort, and Martyn Thomas, professor of software engineering at the University of Oxford.

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to give urgent priority to the formation of a police central e-crime unit, as proposed by the Metropolitan Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers," reads the petition.

"The operation should cover all the activities proposed by the Metropolitan Police to the Home Office for such a unit, beginning with the collation of incident notification and intelligence and support for, and co-operation with, organisations like Get Safe OnLine and the National E-Crime Prevention Centre.

"But it needs to be on a scale akin to similar operations in the US with additional funding and resources from other government departments and industry (i.e. not just existing police budgets)."

Signatories also include Philip Virgo, director general of the Eurim parliament-industry IT group, and Simon Moores of the Conservative Technology Forum.

Britain was one of the first countries to set up an electronic crime division with the formation of the National High Tech Crime Unit in 2001, and the approach has been copied by many other countries.

But the Unit was shut down in 2006 and most of its responsibilities and staff were absorbed into the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

The Agency had a good first year, with a 94 per cent conviction rate, but many feel believe that a dedicated team is needed to fight the latest threats.