Police officers fighting against the growing surge of cyber criminals are as vital to the fight against crime as uniformed officers on the street, according to Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Stephenson outlined his belief that it was wrong to try to save money by cutting back-office staff in an effort to put more police officers on the streets.
"Some commentators argue that we should concentrate on uniformed policing and draw back from specialised work that could be done by others. Leave cyber crime to the banks and retailers to sort out, the argument runs," he said.
"It is a fundamentally misguided argument. If the debate about police cutbacks gets bogged down in arguments about ‘uniforms before specialists’ we will not serve the public well."
Stephenson also explained that as cyber crime continues to grow it is vital that dedicated law agencies exist to take on this growth and work alongside financial institutions to combat this growing trend.
"Online fraud generated £52bn worldwide in 2007 – a staggering sum. There is a significant fight back by the financial institutions, working with police. In the Met, we play our part in a 'Virtual Task Force'," he said.
"It is a ground-breaking venture and would be less effective without the involvement of experienced detectives. The Task Force is working to predict, prevent and respond to cyber threats."
He said that the Virtual Task Force is estimated to save £21 for every £1 it costs to run, but cited other figures that suggest it is still losing the battle.
"We know that, at any time, the police service is only actively targeting 11 per cent of the 6,000 organised crime groups in England and Wales."
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