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Volume 611: debated on Monday 13 June 2016

This Government take the threat of cybercrime very seriously, which is why, through the national cyber-security programme, we invested more than £90 million during the previous Parliament to build specialist capabilities and improve the law enforcement response at local, regional and national levels, and we will continue to invest. As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced last November, this Government have committed to spending £1.9 billion on cyber-security, which includes tackling cybercrime, over the next five years.

Leicestershire police, whose hard-working officers I shadowed on patrol last Friday, provide a range of cybercrime information on their website. Does my hon. Friend agree that effective partnership between the police and other agencies is key to maintaining adequate defences against the growing and real threats that cybercrime poses to our society?

My hon. Friend makes an incredibly important point. It is vital that we work with the police and others. Leicestershire police are a shining example of proactive working to ensure that people understand the threats, understand the risks and understand how to stay safe online.

Operation Vigo saw British nationals based in Spain who were mugging online British businesses and British pensioners brought to justice. Does the Minister agree that, whether it means combating rapidly growing cybercrime, counter-terrorism, human trafficking or the drugs trade, or ensuring that there is no hiding place in Europe for Europe’s most serious criminals, European collaboration, including with the European arrest warrant, is absolutely key?

I do agree with the hon. Gentleman. He is absolutely right. I visited Spain when that operation was tackling the boiler room fraud that was going on in Spain, and only because of that co-operation and bilateral work, using European Union mechanisms, were we able to have such success in that operation.

There are currently 30 pieces of legislation being used against online crimes. There is clearly a need to consolidate and simplify offences, so that the legislation that is effective is more likely to be used to ensure justice. Will the Minister meet me to discuss this further? Important amendments tabled for debate this afternoon would provide part of the solution. We need far more co-ordination, and I am sure that the Minister would benefit from further discussions with other stakeholders on this issue.

My right hon. Friend and I had a conversation about this earlier with reference to the debate that will happen later, and I am more than happy to meet her, with my noble Friend Baroness Shields, who has responsibility for digital security on the internet.

According to Childnet, 82% of children between the ages of 13 and 17 have seen hateful things on the internet. In addition, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is saying that children as young as 11 have been victims of revenge porn, so what more can the Minister do, and what assurances can she give to the House that children will always be protected from the worst aspects of the internet?

The hon. Gentleman raises an incredibly important issue. The internet provides a fantastic opportunity for us all, and it is amazing that my children can play games with friends hundreds of miles away and across the world. That is an amazing opportunity, but there are risks and threats to being on the internet. That is why we are legislating to insist on age verification for pornographic websites, so that children do not have access to them, and that is why we are working with colleagues across the Government—with the Departments for Education and for Culture, Media and Sport, in particular—to ensure that we do everything we can, working with industry, to keep children safe online.