Cyber crime is not being treated properly or taken sufficiently seriously by the police, according to a new study from the University of Leicester.
The study analysed the policing of the internet, and raised a number of concerns about police attitudes to the growing menace.
Public Policing and Internet Crime, written by Professor Yvonne Jewkes of Leicester's Department of Criminology, highlighted a general unwillingness to investigate cyber crimes, and warned that even when they are investigated, it is rarely through co-operation between different organisations or across geographical boundaries.
"Early optimism and idealism have given way to a darker, even dystopian prognosis, with the internet serving as a leitmotif for many and varied problems, dangers, risks and threats," she said.
"There is resistance among individual police officers who do not see cyber crime as 'proper' police work, and inadequate resources to make an impact."
Jewkes drew particular attention to auction scams, which she said occurred with alarming frequency. But she suggested that there is a ray of light.
"According to newspaper reports, the police in England and Wales investigate one alleged internet auction site scam every hour, some of which have moved beyond the cyber realm and precipitated 'real world' crimes including burglary, assault, possession of firearms, civil disputes, harassment and an arson attack, " she said.
"Some policing initiatives set up to investigate cyber crime have already failed and been dissolved, but others are showing more signs of success."
Professor Jewkes added that the growing tide of hacking, viruses, cyber crime, terrorism, illegal downloading and piracy needs to be treated in the same way as more traditional criminal activities.
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