The government is expected to detail plans next week for the Police Central e-crime Unit, after rival parties and industry observers questioned how it would work with business, and criticised funding as insufficient.
Under government plans, the unit will launch this spring and have £7.4 million funding, of which £3.5 million will come from Whitehall, and the rest from the Metropolitan Police, over three years.
On Monday, Alan Campbell MP, under-secretary of state at the Home Office, will speak at the annual E-Crime Reduction parliamentary advisory forum at Westminster.
Observers are already calling for the minister and the police to answer tough questions on funding, as well as where business will fit in, and what response there will be to criminal investigations.
Tamar Beck, an InfoSecurity Europe director who has hosted presentations by the police about online security, said “everyone will be watching Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdie [who is the head of the PCeU]”. Business wants to know what initial steps the unit will take, she said.
In a parliamentary debate last November, Conservative MP Nigel Evans questioned the £7 million funding, stating it “may be not enough” to do the job.
In that debate, Campbell hit back, saying the PCeU would be supported by other bodies including the National Fraud Reporting Centre, as part of a near-£30 million National Fraud Programme.
Last week David Roberts, chief executive at the Corporate IT Forum, said the formation of the PCeU was “an excellent indication that the government is now treating this issue with the seriousness it deserves”.
Businesses wanted a “constructive relationship” with the PCeU, to help report and stop online crime, he said.
The PCeU plans have been a hot topic of debate since the promise of funding was made in September. Businesses that have spoken to CIO sister title Computerworld UK have been largely supportive of the unit, and said they wanted it to deliver “visible arrests”.