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New UK Police e-Crime Unit Seriously Under-funded To Tackle Global Internet Crime

The UK government has announced that it will set up a Police Central e-Crime Unit which will take on the rising threat of credit card and specialised frauds that happen online and affect en estimated four million Britons annually.

The unit, which will be launched by Spring 2009, will effectively be the central command to help coordinate the nationwide efforts of the various law enforcement agencies across the country and initiate police investigations in the most critical e-crime affairs as well as working closely with two soon-to-be-launched fraud agencies.

However, critics say that the Government doesn't go to far as it allocated only £7.4 million to the unit over a period of three years - roughly half of which is coming from the Central government and the rest from the London's Metropolitan Police; that's roughly £2.5 million per year and just over 63p per person affected by e-crime in the UK.

A view shared by the industry association The Corporate IT Forum - representing the interests of a number of companies whose turnovers are above £300 million - whose Chief executive, David Roberts, said that "£7m over three years seems a very small sum for a very large problem. We doubt whether that it will be enough to tackle an issue that the Home Office itself calls a ‘global menace’ – something our own members know all too well".

The previous National Hi-Tech Crime Unit was shuttered back in April 2006 with many of its staff and duties transferred to the Seriously Organised Crime Agency and some are fearing that the PCEU might have major overlaps with the e-crime unit of the SOCA.

About half of the British population have either experienced online ID Fraud or know someone who has and nearly four out of five say that they are worried about identity theft with the tab running costing the country more than £50 billion per annum.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.