More must be done to tackle cyber crime, warns Labour

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Police forces need to do more to tackle the threat of cyber crime, Labour has argued during a debate on the Serious Crime Bill on 8 July 2014.

Shadow home office minister Baroness Smith of Basildon said it was estimated that half of the country had been targeted by online scams.

"Recorded online fraud is up by 30% but that is just the tip of the iceberg because most of that online fraud is never, ever reported to the police," she told peers.

Citing a report from the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee she said there was "black hole where e-crime is committed with impunity".

Lady Smith tabled a committee-stage amendment seeking to compel police forces to outline what they are doing to tackle cyber crime in their annual reports, to "focus greater attention" on the issue.

Labour tabled the amendment because it could not see a "coherent government plan" within the bill for tackling online fraud and economic crime, the peer explained.

"Only three police forces - Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and West Midlands - have developed comprehensive cyber crime strategies.

"The rest of us who live in other areas have to rely on some kind of knowledge within the police force because there isn't a specific strategy.

"Only 15 forces have considered cyber crime threats in their strategic threat and risk assessments and where those assessments existed the plans were focused only on investigating crime and were silent about preventing it and protecting people from the harm it causes," Baroness Smith told the House.

Compelling police forcers to address cyber crime in their annual report would also provide a way of measuring police action on cyber crime, she argued.

Lib Dem Lord Philips added his support for the amendment, and also called for the legislation to go further and require police to record the extent of the implementation of their policies on cyber crime.

Cyber crime could not be "of more importance to this society", Lord Philips added, as it was "an economic crime of the greatest potential."

Home Office minister Lord Taylor of Hobleach denied the government's response to cyber crime was inadequate, telling peers that ministers considered it to be "on a par with international terrorism".

The government had committed £860m over five years to the national cyber security programme, including £70m to strengthen law enforcements' ability to tackle cyber crime, he said.

Lord Taylor said the government had provided funding for cyber units in eight of the regional organised crime units, which would support police forces.

"The College of Policing is investing in new courses to build cyber capabilities in local forces. The training will increase knowledge and understanding of cyber crime and how to investigate it," Lord Taylor added.

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