The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) appears to be stalling the implementation of reporting plans, amid growing concerns that a lack of funding is holding back progress in the fight against cyber crime.
Speaking at its launch in April last year, NCTCU head, detective chief superintendent Len Hynds, explained that first year plans included the setting up of a confidential reporting system, offering secure intranet links to all the local computer crime units across England and Wales.
"It will enable people to report grass root crimes at a local level, and the vast majority of crime will still be investigated at a local level. But it will also enable us to gather the intelligence that comes from that crime reporting. It will give us a standardised response to the public," he said.
An interview with NHTCU spokeswoman Judy Prue in November reiterated the plans. "We're still working on a formal way of reporting. It is part of the year one objectives," she confirmed at the time.
But NHTCU industry liaison officer Tony Neate insisted that plans for the reporting system were still being formulated.
"We're not running late. There was no time scale. The policy is well on the way to being completed and a draft policy will be pushed out to computer magazines for consultation," he said.
At the same time, a strategic intelligence report, originally due out last August, has yet to materialise, even though it was described at the NHTCU launch as key to co-ordinating and tasking the resources of the unit.
Neate admitted that he was unsure of the progress of the study, but said: "It's something we need to have to know where we are and where we need to go."
However, Chris McNabb, technical director at information risk management firm Matta Security, warned that both elements were fundamental to the success of the unit.
"Tackling hi-tech crime relies on having insights into the techniques and tools being used by criminals," he said.
McNabb blamed under resourcing for the delays, and indicated that there is a strong argument for bringing the unit together with the Metropolitain Police's Computer Crime Unit to avoid any duplication of effort.
"Between them they could pull together some good resources," he concluded.
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