Commissioner responds to Times columnist over police response to E-crime
Following the publication of the Home Affairs Select Committee report on E-crime an article by The Times’ columnist Matthew Parris appeared in the paper questioning the police response to the growing threat posed by cyber criminals and suggested that forces should just give up and admit defeat.
Below is the full response from the Commissioner, of which an edited version was published in the Times letters page.
I read with interest Matthew Parris’s opinion piece last week, titled ‘On internet fraud, police must put up or shut up’. He painted a depressing picture of people being left at the mercy of a growing wave of cyber criminals with police having already given up the ghost of trying to catch those responsible. Mr Parris concluded his article by questioning whether the police should just give up and admit defeat. My direct response to that and to your readers is that my force and all those across the country will do no such thing, especially now that we are starting to get our hands on the tools that are enabling us to properly engage with these new breed of criminals.
Anyone who falls victim to an internet fraud, or any type of fraud, can now report directly to the “Action Fraud” Call Centre, knowing their report will be analysed by my force’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and potentially used as the catalyst for an investigation by a local police force, or to form the basis of a public or private sector fraud alert and at the very least, to enrich the national intelligence picture.
In 2012/13 Action Fraud received more than 100,000 reports of fraud, of which more than 50% had been committed using the internet, and with the National Security Strategy of 2010 estimating that by 2015 there will be more interconnected devices on the planet then humans, Mr Parris is right to highlight the scale of the threat we face. However, as a nation we are not sitting idly by and waiting to be engulfed by a rising tide of internet crime. In the autumn there will be a new National Crime Agency and within it will be a National Cyber Crime Unit and a dedicated Economic Crime Command both of which are already forging partnerships in conjunction with industry. This will be well supported by the City of London Police, the National Policing Lead for fraud and other agencies who are already working together within the new Economic Crime Command of the National Crime Agency to target organised crime gangs and the means by which they launder their money.
Government has put new money into cyber and intellectual property security and the policing of organised crime, and the UK is doing as much if not more than most other countries to protect their citizens. In September the City of London Police will be launching a dedicated police unit to tackle online intellectual property operating alongside our already established units that are effectively fighting insurance fraud, plastic card fraud and corruption. Mr Parris’ s challenge is valid and timely but the public should be reassured to know that there is a great deal going on to combat internet fraud and even more plans to enhance our prevention and enforcement of the problem as the new National Crime Agency goes live in October.
Adrian LeppardCommissioner of the City of London Police