The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) should appoint a high-ranking officer to lead the force's cyber crime efforts. This was one of several recommendations made in a new report by the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee’s Online Crime Working Group.
The report, entitled Tightening the net: the Metropolitan Police Service’s response to online theft and fraud, looked at the growing threat to the public from cyber crimes, especially online fraud, and at ways to combat it.
The report highlighted a number of concerns, with one being that the newly created Fraud and Linked Crime Online (Falcon) command centre could be 'siloed' off form the rest of the Met, which would have an adverse affect on its efforts to tackle online crime.
"Separate teams can make it difficult for an organisation to provide a joined-up service," it said.
The report said that a senior-ranking officer with direct responsibility for cyber crime would ensure this did not occur.
“The Met should identify a senior-ranking officer, to be responsible for mainstreaming cyber-crime across the whole of the force," it said.
But while the Assembly report said a police chief at the top could help improve the fight against online crime, it also argued that among the rank-and-file of the force the use of civilians with cyber skills could be a better way to tackle cyber crime than simply hiring more officers.
The report said this was particularly important given that Falcon is expanding from 114 officers to 303 this month.
“It [the Met] must, for example, find the right balance between warranted police officers and specialist police staff.
"Currently, the command appears to be weighted in favour of officers: of the 303 posts that the Falcon command will have in March 2015, only 54 are for police staff (18 percent), whereas 249 posts are for police officers, including 207 Detective Constables. This may not be the most effective approach.”
The Met said it welcomed the report and would consider the recommendations to see how the force can further improve its crime-fighting capabilties. It also touted the rapid success the FALCON unit has had.
"Since its inception, FALCON officers have taken on over 1,300 investigations and arrested more than 350 people for offences ranging from dating fraud to cyber attacks on websites," it said.
The report comes amid ongoing technological changes at the Met, with the force currently hoping to rollout as many as 20,000 tablets to frontline officers in an effort to help them fight crime more effectively.
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