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"Fraudsters, paedophiles and hackers could be logging on"
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Friday, 7 July, 2000, 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK
Crackdown on computer criminals
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By BBC News Online internet reporter Mark Ward

The UK Government is setting up an agency dedicated to fighting cyber-crime.

The high-tech crime unit will help police forces cope with the growing numbers of criminals who use computers and tackle the new crimes that computers make possible.

It will aim to make bobbies on the beat as familiar with technology as many criminals are becoming, said John Abbott, director general of the National Criminal Intelligence Unit.

The unit is due to formally start its work by April 2001, provided it gets the £51 million funding it has requested.

The new unit will co-ordinate work undertaken by Customs & Excise, the National Criminal Intelligence Unit and the National Crime Squad.

Mark Castell, head of the project team setting up the unit, said it would bring together all the work being done by regional police forces on investigating and combating computer crimes.

Bobbies beaten

He said that many criminals were now using computers and the internet routinely to prepare or co-ordinate their plans.

However, he said, many police officers lacked the skills to extract information from computers, mobile phones and the net to catch or build up evidence against criminals.

The unit will ensure that constables are familiar with new technology and how it can be used to commit crime.

Mr Castell said as computers and access to the internet become more widely used cyber-crimes would undoubtedly increase.

He predicted a rise in the numbers of fraudsters, drug dealers and paedophiles using the internet to carry out crimes.

The wide use of computers also gives criminals new opportunities to hide their tracks, said Mr Castell.

Some use encryption techniques to scramble data that could be intercepted. Mr Castell cited the example of David Copeland who anonymously surfed the web for bomb-making instructions from a cyber-café.

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See also:

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Police seek key to cyber-crime
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The web detectives
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Interpol patrols the web
08 May 00 | Sci/Tech
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