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DPP spells out cyber crime threat

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The DPP met with DMU law students

The “huge” scale of cyber crime facing Britain’s prosecutors was laid bare by the Director of Public Prosecutions during a visit to De Montfort University (DMU).

Keir Starmer, who heads up the Crown Prosecution Service, met law students and staff on Wednesday to talk about cyber crime, and how it was increasingly becoming part of his team’s workload.

He then met DMU’s Cyber Security Centre to find out how its academics were helping fight online criminals and carrying out cutting-edge research in that field.

“The scale of cyber crime is huge,” he said. “In 2012, 93 per cent of large corporations and 76% of small businesses had cyber crime breaches.

“The National Fraud Authority had 60,000 reports of internet fraud in a year. I don’t think there’s any big case that we run now which does not involve an internet aspect.”

Mr Starmer was quizzed by lecturers and students on how misuse of social media such as Twitter to send abusive messages was being dealt with by the CPS.

He said: “If we prosecuted every case then there would be more social media cases going through magistrates’ courts than any other type of offence.”

Mr Starmer, a former human rights barrister, spelled out how advances in technology were changing the way that prosecutors were able to present cases to jurors by using digital reconstructions.

He also spoke out about his concerns at reported political moves to distance British law from the European Union.

He said that the CPS used the resources at Eurojust – a specialist team of prosecutors, magistrates and police from each EU member state – every day.

“All of our big cases have an international element to them,” he said. “We absolutely rely on the European Arrest Warrant which allows us to get suspects back into this country quickly.

“This is a huge advantage and I don’t want us to get into the situation where someone commits murder in this country, goes to another country and we are not able to get them back for years.”

Law students who went along to the event were thrilled at the chance to meet the DPP.

Legal practice student Jules Motcho said: “It was very useful and interesting to hear about the challenges he faces.”

Final year law student Will Tolcher added: “It was great to have someone like the DPP -  someone at the forefront of criminal law today - speaking on the realities of cyber crime, which is not just a problem tomorrow, but a problem today.”

After meeting the law school, it was on to the Cyber Security Centre where he was given a demonstration in hacking and briefed on key research projects.

Mr Starmer said: “I think the partnership we have with universities such as De Montfort University are really important to help inform the work that we are doing in the CPS today.”

Posted on Monday 25th March 2013

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