Setback for UK e-crime strategy

The UK’s e-crime strategy was dealt a major blow on Wednesday with the resignation of Commander Sue Wilkinson, head of e-crime at the Association of Chief Police Officers and the driving force behind the Metropolitan Police’s proposed National E-Crime Co-Ordination Unit.

Commander Wilkinson is leaving on a two-year overseas secondment, and is unlikely to return to the role, reports Computing. Insiders fear Wilkinson’s resignation will have a detrimental impact on the already slow-moving National E-Crime Co-ordination Unit initiative, designed to plug the gaps created by the dissolution of the National High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU).

The National E-Crime Co-ordination Unit has already been dogged by funding problems, however, and its future remains in serious doubt.

The NHCTU was officially rolled into the Serious and Organised Crime Agency in April 2006 after what was widely regarded as a highly successful six-year stint at the forefront of e-crime investigation. Many organisations including the Corporate IT Forum (Tif) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) have since publicly criticised the move, claiming SOCA has been both unhelpful and uncommunicative toward industry.

Speaking on Thursday at a closed conference hosted by multi-factor authentication security company TriCipher, Lord Erroll of the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee said that SOCA’s efforts have been principally devoted “to catching Mr Big”. It is less concerned with catching “serious disorganised crime”, he added, despite the devastating impact such crime continues to have on the SME community.  

A delegate from a major retail bank that has suffered from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks added that SOCA has been unresponsive to their needs, and is “not interested” unless the e-crime in question is on a massive scale. “We have nowhere to turn to,” he added.

Lord Erroll told Information Age that there has been some pressure “behind the scenes” to ramp up the government’s e-crime effort, but the Home Office continues to drag its feet for reasons that are both financial and political.

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Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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