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NCIS Press Release (originally at http://www.ncis.co.uk/PRESS/18_01.html

18/01 | 18 April 2001

Launch of the United Kingdom's first National Hi-Tech Crime Unit

The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, (NHTCU), the UK's first national law enforcement organisation tasked to combat computer-based crime, is being launched today, Wednesday, 18 April, 2001, by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw MP. The launch, at the Science Museum, London, coincides with a six-month exhibition on cybercrime being staged at the Museum.

The NHTCU is the lynchpin in the UK's co-ordinated response to cyber-crime in partnership with law enforcement, business and the IT world. It will undertake national proactive investigations of serious and organised crime using IT. It will also provide consultation to local forces and other agencies; liaise with government on policy issues and provide a 24-hour point of contact for G8 countries.

The NHTCU is multi-agency and will be based in London. A Detective Chief Superintendent from the National Crime Squad, Len Hynds, has been appointed Head of the Unit and he will work with law enforcement experts selected from the National Crime Squad, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, HM Customs and Excise and police forces. The Unit will also work in close partnership with the IT industry.

Launching the NHTCU, Jack Straw MP said, "The Government is committed to ensuring a safe and secure online environment for Internet users in the UK, by tackling hi-tech crime and ensuring our law enforcers have the tools to deal effectively with on-line crime.

"The significant cash injection of £25 million, which I announced last year, has established the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit. It will improve the technical capability of the police to detect and investigate hi-tech crime, through the deployment of up to 80 law enforcement specialists, nationally and locally.

"New technologies bring enormous benefits to the legitimate user, but also offer opportunities for criminals, from those involved in financial fraud to paedophiles. We are determined that the UK will be the best and safest place in the world to conduct and engage in e-commerce, and that our children receive the full protection they deserve online so they can surf the Net in safety."

Deputy Director General of the National Crime Squad, Bob Packham, said: "Looking to the future the equation is simple, money is going electronic and where money goes so will organised crime. Therefore, as we have learnt from our colleagues in the USA, the only way to tackle this type of crime is by using a joined-up approach.

"Although the National Crime Squad will take the operational lead, the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit is based on a partnership arrangement, bringing together the very best aspects of intelligence-led law enforcement.

"Not only do we need a multi-agency approach in the fight against cybercrime but we also need to get businesses and the IT world on board and a lot of work has already been done in this area.

"We need to gain their trust and confidence in reporting alleged offences and I hope that now we have a co-ordinated response we will start to see this happening more and more, and then we can start to build up a better picture of patterns of computer-driven criminality."

Roger Gaspar, Deputy Director General of NCIS said: "We are confident that the national strategy, which includes the NHTCU, will address IT-enabled criminality.

"The more IT is used in social and business life, the more IT will be used to commit crimes. All law enforcement agencies will increasingly have to recover evidence in digital form and operations will increasingly involve investigation of computers as a routine line of enquiry.

"One of the issues law enforcement faces is that the true extent of IT-based criminality is as yet uncertain because no statistics have been collated hitherto. Active investigation of IT-based criminality will generate intelligence with which to assess the nature and extent of the problem and so gauge the impact of the strategy."

The NHTCU comprises of four main divisions - Investigation, Intelligence, Support and Forensic Retrieval - and its role is to:

The majority of hi-tech crime will continue to be investigated by local forces serving the local community.

Hi-tech crime encompasses a variety of criminal activities contained in two broad categories:

The NHTCU will focus primarily on the first category but will be in a position to assist local forces and other agencies in investigating the second category.

Background to the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit

The NHTCU is one element of the national hi-tech crime strategy announced by the Home Secretary to Parliament in November 2000. The national hi-tech strategy was drawn up in response to the work of the ACPO Crime Committee Computer Crime Working Group and a strategic threat assessment Project Trawler published in 1999 by NCIS. Project Trawler identified significant gaps in investigative capability at both local and national levels and informed policy-makers of the potential threat of hi-tech crime.

In response, the National Hi-Tech Crime Project Team was set up in March 2000, to identify the appropriate level and manner of response needed in the formation of a national unit. In November 2000, the Home Secretary, Jack Straw MP announced new Government funding of £25million for the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, over three years. Just over £10 million of the money will be used to develop local force computer crime units.

Notes for editors

  1. The media launch of the new NHTCU will take place at the Science Museum on Wednesday, 18 April at 9.15 a.m.
  2. The Home Secretary, Jack Straw will head the launch with the Deputy Director General of the National Crime Squad, Bob Packham and Deputy Director of NCIS, Roger Gaspar who will announce and formally introduce the new Head of the National Hi-tech Crime Unit, Len Hynds. Tea and coffee will be served from 9.00 a.m. in the Deep Blue café in the Wellcome Wing. Broadcast media will be allowed access to set up from 8.30 a.m. There will be an opportunity for one-to-one interviews after the media launch and also an opportunity to film the Science Museum Cybercrime Exhibition
  3. Invitations have been sent to named invitees. If you would like to attend the press launch please contact either Judi Prue at the NCS Press Office on 020 7238 2510 or Fleur Strong at the NCIS Press Office on 020 7238 8431. If you are unable to attend and would like to nominate a colleague to represent you, you must contact either the NCS or NCIS press office and register your name otherwise we can not guarantee access to the launch.
  4. A press pack including a fact sheet about the Unit and a CD-Rom of pictures will be made available on the day.
  5. The Science Museum's Cybercrime exhibition opens on April 18 and will form part of the Museum's science news exhibition - Antenna. The Antenna exhibition is updated on a monthly, weekly and sometimes daily basis - giving visitors access to science as it happens. The content of the Cybercrime exhibition is based solely on the accounts of key players in this debate - a groundbreaking approach to the way that Museum exhibitions are developed. From the new National Hi-Tech Crime Unit and controversial new surveillance laws to an in-depth look at hacker culture, the Cybercrime exhibition allows the people involved to tell their story.

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