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Thursday, September 17, 1998 Published at 18:21 GMT 19:21 UK


Police 'ill equipped' to fight cybercrime

Net used to commit almost every type of crime imaginable

A senior officer has admitted that many UK police forces have been left behind by the Internet revolution.

Detective Superintendent Keith Akerman said criminals were using the Net to commit almost every type of crime imaginable.

But he said police forces were often ill equipped to deal with cybercrime.

"This sort of technology is something brand new to us and we need to learn new skills," said Mr Akerman, chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers Computer Crime Group.

He called for the setting up of a specialist national police unit concentrating on Internet crime.

Some police forces in countries like Germany have also set up so-called cyber-cops to fight crime on the Net.

The international nature of the Internet means that police forces often need to cooperate with colleagues in other countries to bring criminals to justice.

Fighting cybercrime

[ image: Police ill equipped to fight cybercrime]
Police ill equipped to fight cybercrime
Mr Akerman comments came amid growing concern about criminal activity on the Internet.

In response, police forces in the UK are planning to step up their efforts to fight crime on the Internet.

They extend their operations to target illegal Internet gambling operations.

Mr Akerman said the police were concerned about "virtual gambling" with Websites were offering users the chance to bet on horses or play casino-style games such as black jack or roulette.

The police say there are no guarantees that the games are played fairly and it is illegal under gaming laws to set up a "virtual casino".

Officers also plan to concentrate on fraud and selling of stolen goods on the Net, along with computer crimes such as hacking, software piracy and spreading viruses.

A series of seminars between the police, officials and the computer industry are planned for later this month to explore the practicalities of policing the Internet.

The focus will be on what information is available to the police on the Net as well as looking at the legal limits on information that can be disclosed by companies which provide access to the Internet.

Mr Akerman said the contents of individual e-mails sent between people on the Net were already protected by stringent laws which could only be superseded by warrants signed at the very highest ministerial levels.

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