Concerns that the work of the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) could be lost in the transfer process to SOCA, the newly formed Serious Organised Crime Agency, are clearly misplaced, if an answer to a Parliamentary question earlier this week is to be believed.
Granted, mentions of the NHTCU on SOCA's new site might tally up to a number not unadjacent to zero. And yes, that might well make one wonder where all of those specialist skills and services NHTCU brought to the crime-fighting table might have gone. Indeed, one might even be positively disturbed by SOCA having simply shoved a 'don't bother us, phone your local plod' message up to replace the NHTCU site. But don't worry it's under control.
Asked by Margaret Moran MP "whether he plans to replace the contact service formerly provided via the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit website", Vernon Coaker, Home Office Under-Secretary i/c policing etc, responded:
"The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), as part of the National Crime Squad, became part of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) on 1 April 2006 and now operates under the title of SOCA e-Crime.
"The NHTCU was never a crime recording centre and always requested members of the public to contact their local police force. The NHTCU provided a website that contained a great deal of advice relating to harm reduction and awareness surrounding the use of computers and the internet. The content of the website has been saved and discussion is ongoing as to the most appropriate location for this to be available. Organisations and members of the public who wish to report a crime should continue to contact their local police force in the normal way."
Which we might take to mean that SOCA has an e-Crime Unit which was formerly known as the NHTCU. Or we might not. But we can sleep soundly in our beds, secure in the knowledge that, somewhere on a USB drive (do look after it, chaps) resides the contents of the NHCTU web site,* ready for redeployment just as soon as we figure out where the blazes to put it. e-Government in action, part 94. ®
* One could also conjure images of banks of chilled NHTCU techies stacked in a secure storage facility pending redeployment, but today, one won't.