The UK's system for handling cybercrime is overburdened, and one solution might be to draft in computer geeks as special constables, according to studies published this week.
The two reports are a collaboration between Europe-wide parliament-industry working group Eurim and UK think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), and are only the latest to recognise that the UK's criminal justice system is struggling to keep up with the international scope and sophistication of Internet-enabled crime. Eurim/IPPR studies from earlier this year recommended a new skills framework as well as help from the private sector.
The two papers published this week recommend bringing in IT experts as special constables, as well as the creation of streamlined and better-resourced ways of reporting crime and clearer guidance on security for enterprises and users.
Brian White MP, chairman of Eurim, suggested that IT managers could be trained in evidence gathering, enabling them to report to the Crown Prosecution Service and secure crime scenes.
Philip Virgo, Eurim's secretary general, noted that getting rid of the physical fitness requirement for special constables would make it far easier for IT experts to take part. Indeed - a study by ISP UK Online published this week found that 98 percent of those surveyed admitted to eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at their desk, though not every day.
The systems for reporting cybercrime may not be as glamorous as tracking down e-offenders, but Eurim said it is at least as important to thin out the "jungle" of largely ad hoc reporting structures. A massive infrastructure will also need to be put in place for sifting through reports, along the lines of the US National White Collar Crime Center and the Cyberangels, Eurim said. "The UK routines for reporting suspected money laundering illustrate the paralysis likely to result if this is not available," Eurim said in the report on the Reporting of Cybercrime.
Clear guidance on assessing risk is just as important for enterprises as for non-technical consumers, the study concluded. "un-prioritised governance paperchases, to meet the demands of regulators, can serve to increase vulnerability by diverting resources and attention from practical action," Eurim said in a statement.
The two discussion papers are the result of the Eurim/IPPR e-crime study, "Partnership Policing in the Information Society", and are available from Eurim's Web site.