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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 February, 2004, 14:54 GMT
Police chief demands net clean up
Jane Longhurst
Ms Longhurst was strangled to satisfy a website-fuelled fantasy
The head of the UK's internet crime team has called for a clean-up of sites promoting cannibalism and necrophilia.

Det Ch Supt Len Hynds, of the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, said it would not be allowed on the High Street and therefore should be banned on the net.

It follows the disclosure that Graham Coutts - jailed for murdering teacher Jane Longhurst - spent hours on sites involving strangulation and necrophilia

The government had to help, Mr Hynds told a London cyber crime conference.

Fringe elements

I can't walk down the High Street and have banner advertisements that come up to promote cannibalism but why tolerate that online?
DCS Hynds

"I challenge anybody that they would like to be part of a world where we promote these kinds of behaviour," the detective told the E-Crime Congress.

"I can't walk down the High Street and have banner advertisements that come up to promote cannibalism but why tolerate that online?

"For the internet to take the final step to adulthood it must first deal with those fringe elements that choose to promote abhorrent activities like cannibalism and necrophilia."

But he warned the police could not tackle the problem alone and called on the government and business to help tackle the problem.

Crime pays

The e-crime conference was organised by the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit to get businesses, security firms and police collaborating more closely to in the fight against computer criminals.

Computer keyboard, Eyewire
Financial fraud: 121m
Virus attacks: 27.8m
Criminal use of the net: 23m
Theft of data: 6.6m
Corporate site spoofing: 4.8m
Denial of service: 1.3m
Source: NHTCU Hi-Tech Crime Survey

Up to 400 delegates from law enforcement organisations, computer security firms, data forensics outfits, consumer groups and big business were expected to attend the two-day summit.

They heard that cyber-crime was costing UK business billions of pounds through virus attacks, hackers, extortion and fraud.

A police survey of 201 UK firms found 83% of them had been the victims of computer crime.

The vast majority, 77%, were virus attacks and, on average, companies face 254 assaults from malicious programs every year.

Other computer crimes reported in the study included fraud, theft of key data and denial-of-service attacks.

The cost of dealing with attacks over the last year by disinfecting computers, investigating who has committed crimes and securing networks and machines was put at 195m

But the survey found that only 24% of companies reported cyber-crimes to the police as many feared adverse publicity.

"This research certainly shows beyond doubt that some companies are suffering multi-million pound losses as a result of hi-tech crime," said Det Ch Supt Hynds.

"Whilst it is too early to put an accurate figure on the total financial impact for UK business all the indicators suggest that we are talking about billions rather than millions."

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