Regional cybercrime hubs launched across England

Keyboard The government hopes the hubs will bolster the national effort to fight e-crime

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Three police cybercrime teams have been launched as part of a £6m regional effort to combat growing threats.

Yorkshire and the Humber, the Northwest and East Midlands will each get its own dedicated unit.

They will work alongside the Metropolitan Police Centre e-crime Unit which deals with national online security.

The funding is part of £30m targeted at bolstering e-crime prevention nationally over the next four years.

The new centres will consist of three members of staff - a detective sergeant and two detective constables.

The initiative was announced at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) e-crime conference in Sheffield on Wednesday.

'Critical role'

A training period is required before the hubs will be fully operational, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Janet Williams, who heads ACPO's e-crime efforts, said.

"These three additional policing units are going to play a critical role in our ability to combat the threat," she added.

Start Quote

It seems to me to be a positive move towards enhancing the national response to cybercrime”

End Quote David Emm Security researcher

"It is anticipated the hubs will make a significant contribution to the 'national harm reduction' target of £504m."

Harm reduction is calculated using a "harm matrix" - a system which factors in costs such as how much the criminal stood to gain, how much money was invested in the crime, and the potential cost to the victim.

"In the first six months of the new funding period alone we have already been able to show a reduction of £140m with our existing capability," Ms Williams said.

Britain's e-crime efforts were exposed last week after a conference call in which Met officers discussed operations against hackers with the FBI was itself intercepted by hackers.

Details about active investigations into hackers who identified themselves with the activist collective Anonymous were posted online.

At one point in the tape, a British detective can be heard saying: "We're here to help. We've cocked things up in the past, we know that."

'Positive move'

The move to increase funding and reach of e-crime prevention efforts has been praised by security professionals.

"It seems to me to be a positive move towards enhancing the national response to cybercrime," said David Emm, a security researcher for Kaspersky.

"Until now, most of the police's expertise in computer-based crime has been concentrated in the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the Met.

"Clearly, the government is keen to widen the field of expertise, and this is part of that initiative."

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