Training and co-operation across Europe’s national police authorities is to be stepped up by the EU’s police college Cepol to counter cyber crime, organised crime and terrorist threats after the European Parliament approved an update of the rules to help it keep pace with developing security threats.
“The urgency and continuous development of security threats, such as terrorism and cyber crime, or the growing demand by migratory flows, make it crucial that European law enforcement authorities receive training of highest standard and are equipped with the most modern tools,” said lead MEP Kinga Gál.
“The European dimension of Cepol’s activity is also instrumental in building mutual trust and cross-border co-operation among national law enforcement authorities, which is a key element in combating criminal organisations, which operate more and more at international level,” she added.
According to Gál, the main objectives of the new rules are to establish Cepol as an independent EU agency, with clear tasks and accountability, and to ensure that fundamental rights “become visible” in the agency’s mandate.
“Cepol should promote a common respect for and understanding of fundamental rights in law enforcement,” she said.
Cepol was set up in 2005 to increase knowledge of police systems and structures in other member states, to boost cross-border police co-operation within the EU, to improve knowledge of international and EU instruments, and to provide appropriate training in democratic safeguards.
Following the UK decision not to continue hosting Cepol, the agency relocated from Bramshill to Budapest in Hungary from 1 October 2014.
In the UK, police forces have struggled to develop and implement training courses that will enable officers to investigate cyber crime.
In June 2015, Gary Miles, the chief of the Metropolitan Police Service’s newly established Falcon fraud squad, admitted that policing of online fraud and cyber crime had not been good enough.
The Met Police has vowed to reverse its abysmal record and Falcon has set itself the target of catching 75% of the fraud committed in London in 2015.
In October 2015, a report published by technology association TechUK called for collaboration between police and industry to raise standards of reporting, recording and responding to cyber crime.
“Digital technology is revolutionising the way criminals operate,” said James Murphy, associate director, defence and security at TechUK.
“Police forces have made a number of positive steps to meet the challenge in recent years but they cannot meet it on their own,” he added.
The UK has been a key player in promoting collaboration between police forces in Europe and internationally.
Andy Archibald, the outgoing head of the National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU), part of the UK’s National Crime Agency, served as the first head of an international taskforce hosted by the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at Europol.
The Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) was launched on 1 September 2014 and consists of cyber liaison officers from EU states, non-EU law enforcement partners and EC3.
J-CAT is designed to drive intelligence-led, co-ordinated actions against key cyber crime threats and top targets.