News: Programme will work with private law firms to use civil law against cyber criminals.
In a pilot programme that could have huge implications for the future of cyber security law enforcement, the City of London Police will be pursuing cyber criminals through civil courts rather than criminal courts.
The force will work with private sector law firms to seize and recover assets from criminals through civil litigation procedures for the recovery of assets.
The force’s Economic Crime Directorate believes that this method will allow far quicker identification, seizure and return of assets to victims.
The scheme will initially last two years, and will trial this new method of recovery. The working group will include representatives from the police as well as the National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Service.
The approach will not replace recovery under the Proceeds of Crime Act, but will work in tandem with it.
Detective Superintendent Maria Woodall, from the City of London Police and operational lead for the pilot said: “This innovative new scheme will hopefully allow us to be more flexible and creative in how we identify and seize criminal assets in certain cases to get those funds back to the victims of crime and out of the hands of criminals.
"We're looking to use the private sector's ability and expertise to take back these assets using civil litigation whilst freeing up time for our officers to concentrate on building the criminal cases against those individuals and groups.”
Year one of the project will be part-funded through a £157,000 grant from the Home Office’s Police Innovation Fund. Officers have applied for similar funding for year two.
The idea of using civil rather than criminal law to punish cyber criminals is not new, although its adoption by a major law enforcement body is.
The main advantage is that civil law has a lower standard of proof for the recovery of assets than criminal law. Sometimes with cyber crime cases it is not possible to meet the standards for the POCA.
Speaking at an 8MAN event earlier this year, Philip Virgo, Chairman of the Conservative Technology Forum, advocated using civil law instead of criminal law to tackle cyber criminals.
“Civil law can move much faster to sanction everyone in the supply chain,” he said.
He explained that due to the use of fall guys in cyber security, it is more damaging for the money to be taken from the gangs than for the direct perpetrator to be arrested.