Business challenged to reveal extent of e-crime

As e-crime continues to rise – with identity theft the most high profile – businesses must change their attitude to the reporting of incidents if the digital criminal is to be bought under control by the police.

Sep 6, 2007
By David Howell

As e-crime continues to rise – with identity theft the most high profile – businesses must change their attitude to the reporting of incidents if the digital criminal is to be bought under control by the police.

This is the stark warning from North Wales Police. The comments come after the influential Lords Science and Technology committee accused the Government of ignoring the plight of the victims of e-crime and called the Internet “the playground for criminals.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Corcoran of North Wales Police, chair of the E-crime Wales Unit and member of the National E-crime Forum, said: “We need to get a true picture of the real problem so we can start to resource it properly, start to properly link in nationally and start to take some informed, preventative measures. We can’t deal with what we don’t know about from a police perspective so unless people tell us we can’t address the problem.”

The comments reinforce the call for a re-establishment of a specialised e-crime unit that did exist as an independent body until it was incorporated into SOCA last year. The Met is also looking closely at how a new cybercrime unit could operate across the UK.

Wales, however, set up its own e-crime steering group three years ago and has recently rolled out a management team that advises on e-crime and offers support to victims. Corcoran said that businesses in Wales were “over the moon” about the new services that offer personal contact with knowledgeable officers – something that is lacking in many of the front-line police stations in the rest of the country.

David Croucher-Jones, the Federation of Small Businesses home affairs chairman, commented: “We applaud the Lords Committee for having highlighted and recommended proposals that are essential to Internet trade moving forward, but recommending and doing are two different things,” he said. “E-crime needs to be given the same status as crime that is committed against bricks and mortar businesses. Only when this is accomplished by implementing the Lords recommendations can more small businesses benefit from having a stronger online presence.”

The Get Safe Online study found 21 per cent of respondents felt most at risk from net crime. Commenting on the Government survey, the House of Lords committee said: “This raises the question whether the Government needs to do more to help establish a true picture of the scale of the problem, the risks to individuals and the cost to the economy. We believe the answer is ‘yes’.”

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