Government backs new e-crime bill

The Government has said that the Serious Crime Bill will be sufficient to tackle e-crime, which cost UK Internet users more than £3bn last year.

Apr 5, 2007
By David Howell

The Government has said that the Serious Crime Bill will be sufficient to tackle e-crime, which cost UK Internet users more than £3bn last year.

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker told the e-crime Congress last week that the Government will react to fast-moving technology and introduce new legislation if necessary.

“The Government wants a modern legislative framework,” he said. “Where there is a need to revise legislation we are committed to ensuring criminal law is fit for purpose. With the Serious Crime Bill we believe current law will be.”

Since the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit was disbanded last April, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has handled major e-crime investigations. Smaller e-crime cases are now handled by individual forces.

E-crime is an increasingly serious problem. Figures published this week by campaign awareness group Get Safe Online show that 12 per cent of UK Internet users – some 3.5 million people – were victims of online fraud last year. Each attack cost an average of £875, a total of more than £3bn.

There is also evidence that in the absence of a national e-crime unit, devolved governments within the UK are tackling the problem unilaterally.

The Welsh Assembly’s decision earlier this month to establish its own e-crime unit is a case in point. This is in the wake of a report by the Met stating that a new national e-crime unit should be established.

Simon Lavin, planning and development manager of the new e-crime unit in Wales said: “We’ll see how we fit with the proposed Met unit when it is set up, but it was a question of taking a lead on this here and now in Wales.”

Detective chief superintendent Chris Corcoran of North Wales Police, chairman of the E-crime Steering Group also commented:

“Recording of e-crime is a bit hit and miss,” he said.

“Every force does things differently so we cannot compare like for like. We want to educate businesses about where to report e-crime so that we can establish some facts as to the extent of it.”

The unit will be funded for three-years by the Welsh Assembly. It will liaise upwards, with contact routes into the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) in London and the Metropolitan Police e-crime unit, as well as with the Welsh Assembly itself.

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