Home Page | About Us | Press Enquiries| Reports | Policy Issues | News Items | Press Releases | Mailing Lists | Bookstore

UK Policy and Developments

House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 21 Nov 2000 (pt 14), Cyber Crime

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the terms of reference of the proposed cyber crime unit; and if he will make a statement on the role of the unit in relation to the criminal use of chatrooms. [139314]

 Mr. Charles Clarke: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced in the reply he gave my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Mr. Shaw) on 13 November 2000, Official Report, column 531W, that a National Hi-Tech Crime Unit would begin work in April 2001.

The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit will:

 i) investigate, or support the investigation of, serious and organised crime usually operating on a national or international scale, that wholly or partly involve computers or computer networks such as the internet;

ii) investigate attacks on the United Kingdom Critical National Infrastructure;

iii) undertake forensic retrieval and examination of computer- based evidence gathered in its investigations;

iv) provide the national point of contact for overseas investigators of international offences involving computer networks;

v) provide technical support and advice to investigators in the police service and other law enforcement agencies across the United Kingdom; 

21 Nov 2000 : Column: 151W 

vi) work in partnership with local police and other agencies taking forward initiatives to promote information security and other hi-tech crime reduction strategies, and

vii) liaise with industry on behalf of the police service, for example through the Internet Crime Forum, the Association of Chief Police Officers' Telecommunications Strategy Forum and the G8 Government-Industry Dialogue on Confidence and Security in Cyberspace, to support co-operation between law enforcement and industry in the detection, investigation and reduction of hi-tech crime. 

Potentially, use of internet chatrooms by criminals can feature in the conduct or commission of offences that have local, national or international impact. Local police computer crime units will investigate and gather evidence of crimes that have a local impact and wholly or partly involve computers or computer networks such as the internet. The scope of these crimes will be wide ranging, from very minor offences to the most serious such as murder or sexual assault. The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit will investigate the use of internet chatrooms by criminals where that features in its investigations or the investigations it supports. The National Unit will also work with the police service, with Home Office researchers and with industry to develop and identify best practices for proactively policing the internet to identify and prosecute paedophiles who use newsgroups and chatrooms to disseminate illegal material and facilitate other illegal activities.

New hi-tech crime investigators in 25 million boost to combat cybercrime
Home Office press notice
13 November 2000


More hi-tech crime investigators are to be recruited as part of a 25 million strategy to tackle crime on the Internet and make the UK one of the best and safest places in the world to conduct and engage in e-commerce. Up to 80 dedicated "cybercops" will be deployed both nationally and locally to fight the growing menace of crime on the Internet, the Home Secretary announced today. The cash injection follows endorsements by the Prime Minister to improve the technical capability of law enforcement to investigate Internet crime and establish the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, which will begin work in April 2001.

It will also place the UK at the forefront of the international fight against cybercrime and, in line with our G8 commitments, help fund a 24-hour international hot line to trade information on potential attacks on the national infrastructure and promote closer cross border working. As part of the strategic fight against crime the Home Secretary also announced a 37 million investment in a National Management Information System (NMIS) for police forces in England and Wales. NMIS will provide the police with a comprehensive information management and analysis tool, 'joining-up' data held on the various information technology systems from every force and area of police work. The system will present this data in a consistent format so the whole range of police business can be easily and reliably compared and analysed across the country. While the NMIS roll out currently applies to police forces, the system has the potential to provide a range of organisations, including partners in the criminal justice system, with comparable performance information.

The Home Secretary Jack Straw said:

"The Government is committed to action against hi-tech crime in line with our objective of making the UK the best and safest place in the world to conduct and engage in e-commerce. "Modern technologies such as the Internet offer up huge legitimate benefits, but also powerful opportunities for criminals, from those involved in financial fraud to the unlawful activities of paedophiles. The significant cash injection I am announcing today will boost the police service's capability to investigate crime committed through computers, including paedophilia, fraud, extortion and hacking. "It will also enable each force in the country to have at least one dedicated hi-tech crime investigator whose expert knowledge on Internet technology will prove vital in our ongoing fight against the sophisticated, 20th century criminal."

John Abbott, Director General of the National Criminal and Intelligence Service said:

"Tackling hi-tech crime effectively is essential to maintaining public confidence. The provision of this funding, which I welcome, will contribute to law enforcement's capability in respect of the prevention of crime, the education of the public and the detection of offences. "Cybercrime ignores borders - be they regional, national or international. Our approach therefore has to be holistic. A national unit must co-exist with comprehensive local strategies and abilities."

Bob Packham, Deputy Director General of the National Crime Squad, said:

"We target organised criminals who are commodity driven. Their main motive is financial profit - as the Internet and computer technology become increasingly a part of every day life, those criminals are turning to it to make money. If you look to the future e-commerce is taking off and if business and industry goes electronic then organised crime will go electronic. We must keep one step ahead. "However it is important to be clear that this is a multi-agency, partnership project, involving the National Crime Squad, National Intelligence Service, HM Customs and Excise and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) linking to local police forces. It also involves close liaison with the IT industry, including Internet Service Providers (ISPs), telecommunications companies and software firms.

The 25m cash boost will fund up to 40 dedicated investigators based at the multi-agency National Hi-Tech Crime Unit and up to 46 officers in local forces. 
It will offer, for the first time, a national and local capability for combating cybercrime. Nationally the unit will investigate attacks on the Critical National Infrastructure; major Internet based offences of paedophilia, fraud or extortion; information from seized electronic media; and gather intelligence on cybercrime and cybercriminals. This will be supported by work in local forces to investigate crimes committed on computers, help with requests for information from overseas and provide intelligence.