Met Police's PCeU ‘could have stopped more cyber crime'

Structure of the unit meant that impact of cyber issues were not fully understood

The structure of the Metropolitan Police's now-dissolved Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) was a barrier to preventing some cyber crimes, according to an e-crime expert.

Richard Cox, CIO of the Spamhaus Project, an organisation that tracks spammers and works with law enforcement agencies worldwide to pursue them, said that the new National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU), part of the National Crime agency (NCA) was more than just a rebranding exercise.

"The new cyber crime unit (NCCU) - this is people who know what they're doing. They're not the same old, same old, under a new name. There is a different management structure," Cox told the GovNet Communications' Cyber Security Summit in London.

He said that due to the structure of the PCeU, the understanding of the impact of a cyber crime was not fully understood. This is despite the unit tackling the cyber crimes it dealt with "very well".

In a final impact report, the Met Police reported that its PCeU had saved the UK £1.01 billion over the last two and a half years.

Meanwhile, in response to a counterargument from a member of the former PCeU at the conference, Cox explained:

"We frequently brought things to attention that didn't register with the police as being an issue they should deal with. If they had dealt with it, they could have got a lot more information than we had, and stopped more of the crime than we could.

"There were parts, particularly with dealing with the structure of the Internet - those are the parts that were missing. We have no badges, we have no guns. When people have to be physically stopped, only you can do it."

According to Cox, the new NCCU - with its new structure - has the capability to "look behind the issues".

"It was a structure issue, not a people issue. It was very easy for the full impact of something to be missed under the old structure," he said.

The PCeU was disbanded when the National Crime Agency was launched on 7 October 2013, taking on the remit for tackling cyber crime at a national level. The Met Police has retained its in-house cyber crime skills by creating a London-focused cyber crime unit.

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