Charlie McMurdie will leave her post as the head of Scotland Yard’s Computer Crime Unit "within a couple of weeks", but said that she still wanted a dedicated e-crime unit to come about “one way or another”.
Detective Superintendent McMurdie told Computerworld UK she will move into covert policing, within the Metropolitan Police, when she leaves the Computer Crime Unit. A replacement computer crime head has not yet been found.
The Metropolitan Police’s Covert Policing unit includes surveillance, controlling undercover operations, and providing specialist technology where it is needed to solve crimes.
McMurdie had been the head of the Computer Crime Unit since 2006. In August 2007, she put forward a proposal to the Home Office for £1.3m in funding to set up a dedicated e-crime operation to investigate and tackle online crime, after gaining Metropolitan Police backing earlier that year. The plan included making sure industry supported the unit and worked alongside it.
The proposal quickly gained the support of industry figures and security experts.
The government has not yet responded to the proposal. But a meeting is scheduled for 18 March when Home Office minister Vernon Coaker is due to discuss the ideas with Scotland Yard.
“What we want is an e-crime unit in the middle, tackling the problem,” McMurdie said. “There would be a ‘customer centre’ on one side [where individuals can contact the police about online crime] and on the other side would be police dealing with large scale crimes such as attacks on national infrastructure.”
“There has been overwhelming support from industry and the police including the Association of Chief Police Officers. I think we want to make it happen one way or another.”
Last week, at the launch of the UK Internet Governance Forum in Westminster, McMurdie reiterated calls for the unit, saying: “Internet crime does not sit comfortably around current policing. We need somewhere to set standards on how we report crime and co-ordinate our response, and how we share information.”
McMurdie said the UK having its own Internet Governance Forum would help the police’s online efforts, by helping bring industry, the public sector and charities for victims of online crime together. The Forum aims to help such people share information and discuss strategies on online crime, ranging from “nuisance” crime through to large money scams, child abuse, and terrorist activities.
McMurdie remains hopeful about next week’s meeting with Coker, but said nevertheless that she could not be sure of the outcome. “Hopefully we will get some idea of the funding,” she said.
Shadow home secretary David Davis recently said the Conservatives would create a cyber security minister to tackle online crime. McMurdie has responded: “He is an open supporter of the proposed e-crime unit.”
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