The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has defended its record in tackling cybercrime, arguing that it has more resources at its disposal in fighting e-crime than the more specialist police agency it replaced. But the defence comes as a Home Office minister acknowledged gaps in UK e-crime strategy and announced plans to …
Just a technical point
The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) was actually merged with the National Crime Squad some time before SOCA was formed.
All talk and no browsers
Cyberfraud is not the only area in which it seems difficult to discover the appropriate authority. The Home Office seems to leave open more than one "gap in e-crime reporting and cybercrime investigation that needs to be bridged."
Apparently they either don't know or won't say which department has responsibility in associated areas. See: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldcumlst.htm (retrieved 20 May 2008, 18:20)
"Cumulative list of unanswered Questions for Written Answer No. 23, 20 MAY 2008
"Tabled on the dates in bold and due for answer by the dates in brackets.
"The Government Department responsible for answering each Question is shown in square brackets...
"24 April (8 May)
"Earl of Northesk to ask Her Majesty’s Government which law enforcement agency, Department or other statutory body has responsibility for investigating and prosecuting possible criminal breaches of (a) the Data Protection Act 1998, (b) the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, and (c) the Computer Misuse Act 1990. [HO] HL3267"
Given the SOCA spokesman's comment that "We have a good relationships with the IT industry which we intend to further improve," should we perhaps be watching for an announcement of a public-private internet surveillance initiative from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR)?
Not quite right
The article quotes: "the number of specialists officers tackling e-crime has been maintained over the last two years at 58, more than it inherited from the NHTCU (though it wasn't able to say what this figure was)."
By sheer coincidence, NHTCU had around 55 officers, so clearly SOCA has delivered a huge increase. When SOCA e-crime was launched it was budgeted for 150 officers, but failed to recruit anywhere near that figure. Numbers are only part of the story, as its what those officers are tasked with doing that makes all the difference.
Most complaints about SOCA e-crime stem from its perceived lack of focus on crimes that concern private citizens and businesses, e.g. fraud, DDOS extortion, targeted hacking etc. SOCA e-crime is doing valuable work, its just work that is largely invisible to most of us who suffer these crimes, and there is no one else who is capable of picking that up. So yes there is a major gap in law enforcement coverage that I for one hope PCeU will be allowed to fill.
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