Skip to main content

Cyber and Online Crime

Volume 592: debated on Monday 9 February 2015

10. What assessment she has made of changes in the level of cyber and online crime in the last 12 months; and if she will make a statement. [Official Report, 23 February 2015, Vol. 593, c. 1-2MC.] (907497)

We take cybercrime very seriously, and the Government have committed £860 million over five years to tackling it. We are also working to increase the reporting of online offences to Action Fraud, and official figures show that the recorded number of those crimes has nearly trebled since Action Fraud was set up.

Two of my constituents lost £250,000 due to identity theft and were simply referred to Action Fraud where they were given no information. What is the Minister doing to improve the performance of Action Fraud and to boost the resources of each local police force?

The hon. Lady and I have had several conversations about Action Fraud and I welcome her comments on real-life examples and what is going on. I am working with Action Fraud on an improvement plan. As she knows, the City of London police now have responsibility for both Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, and since moving to the City of London police, Action Fraud has disseminated over 40,000 crime packages to local police forces. However, we can and must do more to ensure that the victim knows about what happens and feels they have been taken seriously.

Cybercrime knows no national boundaries. Is this not a good example where working closely with others in Europe through the European Cybercrime Centre and Interpol will help us better develop systems to tackle cybercrime and keep us all safe?

My right hon. Friend makes a good point. Europol is doing very important work to tackle cybercrime—that high-level malware-type crime that can have a major impact on businesses and infrastructure. Through the Serious Crime Bill we are introducing additional offences to tackle the serious misuse of the internet to impact on national infrastructure.

Can the Minister confirm that there are now delays of more than 12 months in processing and investigating some cases of online child abuse that have been reported to the National Crime Agency?

I do not recognise that statistic. The NCA is working very hard, and we have seen from the success of Operation Notarise just what it can achieve. I work closely with it, and I know it takes this issue extremely seriously and it will make sure all crimes are investigated appropriately.

For many of my constituents who have experienced crime in respect of their commercial enterprises, Action Fraud’s response has been little more than a mapping exercise. Will the Minister urge the Metropolitan police and all police forces to put this sort of commercial crime right up on the agenda?

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. He is right that we need all local police forces, including the Metropolitan police, to take that seriously. I would be keen to hear about the examples from his constituents in order to assist my work on the improvement plan we have put in place to make sure Action Fraud delivers what victims of crime need.