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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

Job cuts on the cards at SOCA

04 December, 2007
The Serious Organised Crime Agency or SOCA is expecting to see redundancies announced in the coming weeks with many in the industry forecasting a corresponding reduction in service levels and effectiveness in fighting e-crime.
The links that have been reported in the press between the likely staff reductions in SOCA and the inability to prevent re-occurrences of the HMRC data loss seems to be a bit of an over-reaction or even scare-mongering for the sake of publicity since the role of SOCA is only partially related to e-crime.

SOCA is a UK government agency formed in 2006 whose objective is to reduce levels of harm in the country as a result of serious crimes. The main focus of the organisation is on drug trafficking, money laundering and people trafficking. However, there are other branches to their work including a reduction in fraud which to some extent involves computer crime, mainly relating to the banking sector and relates to one of SOCA's primary briefs, money laundering.

According to the Home Office led briefing to SOCA, the agency should allocate approximately 80% of its resources on its three main objectives with another 10% on fraud hence the amount of effort that SOCA places on e-crime is limited by its objectives.

As far as the HMRC is concerned, the Serious Organised Crime Agency is unlikely even to bat an eyelid since there isn't actually any crime involved. The data loss at the HMRC was down to poor procedural practice which may result in a crime if the data falls into the wrong hands but the way it stands at the moment, there would be no involvement.

Those in the agency who are working on cyber-crime are probably working on credit card fraud, bank hacks and phishing rings. The potential job cuts may affect these people and that would be cause for concern given the increase in crime in these areas. Given this increase, out of the 4600 people who work for SOCA, including civilian and administrative staff, it is unlikely that they will choose to lose key operational staff from high profile areas.

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