Police have still not “got to grips” with online fraud despite a huge rise in the crime, the UK’s most senior officer has admitted.
The Metropolitan Police has seen a 54 per cent rise in reports of cyber-crime in the past year, with half of the 17,000 cases referred to the force by Action Fraud involving the use of technology.
Speaking at a security conference in London, Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe told delegates at the British Library that investigators have a challenge to gather evidence linked to a crime that has no immediate witnesses.
The Scotland Yard chief said: “There is an emerging and great criminal challenge that we need to confront and I would argue that police have not yet got to grips with this very significant, different type of crime.”
Despite a 20 per cent budget cut, the Metropolitan Police has moved hundreds of officers and staff to a specialised unit called Falcon, which stands for Fraud and Linked Crime Online, to try tackle the problem.
The unit is the biggest anti-cybercrime unit in Europe, and was officially launched earlier this month with a team of 300 staff, which is expected to rise to 500.
Sir Bernard said his force had to find officers and staff for the new unit despite slashed budgets.
He added: “We’ve had to find them because people are suffering and businesses are suffering. We have to do something about it. Frankly I got tired of coming to conferences where people were describing a problem and very little action seemed to have been taken.”
The unit has already made 79 arrests since it began operating in August.