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Consular Special Report – Embassy 51

Police chief warns of cyber crime

Crime fighting agencies globally will have to undergo a “major transformation” to combat the growing threat posed by cyber crime, a senior law enforcement officer told consuls at a recent Consular Corps meeting.

David Armond, Director of Border Policing Command at the National Crime Agency (NCA), said the organisation had set up a National Cyber Crime Unit to “stay ahead in the race” against criminals who are increasingly turning to cyberspace for their illegal activities.

“The threat from organised crime is mutating. Traditional law enforcement approaches won’t be sufficient to counter the threat of cyber crime in future and we have a limited capability globally to deal with that,” he said.

His views echoed a recent report by HM Inspectorate for the Constabulary which found that capability in the area of cyber attacks was least developed among police forces in England and Wales.

Created in October 2013, the NCA controls a budget of £450 million and has a much broader remit than the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) that it replaced. It brings together a number of agencies to combat threats to national security that include organised crime, economic crime, the exploitation of children (especially through the internet) and border crime.

The NCA is intelligence-led, transparent and has greater powers than existed in SOCA to task other law enforcement agencies, he added.

As Director of Border Policing Command, Armond coordinates the work of other law enforcement agencies involved with the security of Britain’s borders, from the smuggling of illicit goods to trafficking people.

“Our role is to produce a joint border security threat assessment which focuses on the identification of vulnerabilities to national security through the border that can be exploited by criminals or terrorists,” he explained.

Armond added that the first line of defence was not Britain’s borders; rather it was better to disrupt crime at its source, which is why international partnerships were vital.

Britain boasts one of the largest overseas networks, with operational officers located in around 40 countries worldwide, covering 200 countries and territories.

NCA partnerships can also extend to building capacity with international law enforcement agencies  in countries where there is a high threat to UK national security, such as Afghanistan or countries in Latin America.

“Organised crime exploits judicial differences and vulnerabilities at the borders. No one nation can combat this alone – the only way to protect citizens is to develop trusted partnerships and to share intelligence in a way that has not been done before,” he concluded.
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