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Deputy geek, reporting for duty

Group calls on U.K. government to recruit IT workers as volunteer police to aid in the fight against cybercrime.

British IT professionals could soon be asked to volunteer their services to police the Internet.

The European Information Society Group (EURIM) is calling on the U.K. government to recruit information technology workers as special constables, or volunteers who work with police officers.

"I think we should be using special constables," said Brian White, chairman of EURIM. "IT managers could be given special powers. If they were trained in evidence gathering, they could...secure crime scenes and give records to court, for example."

The recommendations follow findings earlier this year that only approximately 240 people are qualified to work in digital forensics and evidence recovery. EURIM, a British technology lobbying group, is proposing to increase the number of skilled police officers monitoring the cyberworld.

White believes that legislation alone is not enough to fight cybercrime and more has to be done to improve the level of skilled police for the Internet.

As part of EURIM's proposals, White said, the United Kingdom needs better methods of reporting cybercrime, because local police stations are ill-equipped to handle the task.

EURIM also proposed that some of the barriers to becoming a special constable should be removed, especially for IT specialists.

"One of the things you need to be (to join the special constables) is physically fit," said Philip Virgo, secretary general for EURIM. "There would probably be lots of people who could monitor Internet chat rooms who couldn't police the town on a Friday night. There are lots of boundaries to this that don't need to be there."

EURIM also called for IT specialists to contribute ideas for Internet policing; over the next few weeks, officials will debate what role the U.K.'s Serious Organized Crime Agency will play. EURIM said it wants to use the opportunity to ensure that people have a centralized point of contact when they need to report a cybercrime.