Cut-price UK web police struggling against cybercrime, says Met Chief
Thu 9 Oct 2014
The Metropolitan Police is struggling to understand and fight emerging cyber crimes, according to Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.
Despite a 54% rise in cyber crime reports over the last year, and 8,500 cases reported by Action Fraud, directly involving technology, the police are finding it difficult to confront such a fast-paced and discrete crime.
“There is an emerging and great criminal challenge that we need to confront and I would agree that police have not yet got to grips with this very significant, different type of crime,” explained Hogan-Howe, speaking at a security conference in London today.
One of the difficulties, he emphasised, was that officers have to investigate and gather evidence about a crime that does not necessarily have immediate witnesses.
Hogan-Howe told delegates that despite a hefty 20 per cent budget cut, Scotland Yard has successfully launched a specialised cyber crime unit employing hundreds of officers and digital experts to try and deal with the growing problem.
FALCON, or the Fraud and Linked Crime Online group, is the largest anti-cyber-attack body in Europe. Launched earlier this summer, the unit currently counts around 300 members of staff – a figure expected to rise to over 500 in the near future. Since August, FALCON has made a reported 79 arrests.
Describing the urgency of needing to recruit specialists and cyber officers, Hogan-Howe said: “We’ve had to find them because people are suffering and businesses are suffering. We have to do something about it.”
“Frankly I got tired of coming to conferences where people were describing a problem and very little action seemed to have been taken,” he added.
Hogan-Howe further emphasised the need for businesses to collaborate with the police in sharing information about cyber-attacks on their systems.
“Organisations have control rooms running 24 hours a day to fend off attacks […] but rarely will they share that information with the police,” he said. “They say the police will be overwhelmed. I tell them that if they don’t tell us I can guarantee we won’t do anything about it. It’s vital they share that information with us.”
“The only person who benefits from […] confidentiality and […] discretion is the criminal who attacks us, or the state actor who may be involved,” Hogan-Howe concluded.