By Daniel Hunter

A report from the Home Affairs Select Committee has warned that the UK is in danger of losing the fight against e-crime.

The UK must do more to stop online fraud and deter state-sponsored cyber-espionage, MPs have warned.

The report says that much low-level internet-based financial crime was falling into a "black hole" and was not reported to the police.

The MPs said more officers should be trained in digital crime detection and e-crime experts protected from cuts.

The Home Office said the authorities must "keep pace" with criminals.

Publishing its first report on the subject, the cross-party committee said e-crime took various forms, did not recognise national borders and could be committed "at almost any time or in any place".

It called for a dedicated cyber-espionage team to respond to attacks, many of which are believed to be backed by foreign governments because they are so sophisticated.

Offences range from attacks on computer networks and the use of viruses to steal data to the use of cyberspace to facilitate traditional crimes such as forgery, sabotage, drug smuggling and people trafficking.

The committee said it was worried by the evidence it had heard during its inquiry about the UK's e-crime fighting capability.

It said it had been told by Adrian Leppard, deputy assistant commissioner at the City of London Police, that up to a quarter of the UK's 800 specialist internet crime officers could be lost due to budget cuts.

"At a time when fraud and e-crime is going up, the capability of the country to address it is going down," the report concluded.

"Ministers have acknowledged the increasing threat of e-crime but it is clear that sufficient funding and resources have not been allocated to the law enforcement responsible for tackling it."

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